For obvious reasons, the vast majority of a gynecologist's patients are women. But not all! It turns out that gynecologists also treat men. Men who are at risk of developing anal cancer, for one -- it's often caused by the human papillomavirus, just like cervical cancer. Which is why doctors who have treated patients or researched the latter form of cancer can be particularly effective at treating and researching the former.
One gynecologist, Dr. Elizabeth Stier, treated 110 men in 2012, the New York Times wrote. But as of September, she wasn't allowed to treat men and stay a board-certified gynecologist. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology changed the definition of an ABOG-certified gynecologist to make sure its doctors were treating women and only women, with a few exceptions (such as circumcisions of newborns or emergency situations).
ABOG's reasoning, according to the Times, was because "the specialty’s image was being tarnished by members who had strayed into moneymaking sidelines, like testosterone therapy for men, and liposuction and other cosmetic procedures for both women and men."
Those "moneymaking sidelines" somehow also include anal cancer screenings for Stier's patients, many of which "are poor, from minority groups and infected with H.I.V. Some live in shelters, some have histories of drug use." Great job targeting those profiteers, ABOG!
Though the rule changed in September, the issue was only publicized last Friday with the Times' article. Right after it caused a significant outcry, the ABOG revised its rules, which I'm sure is a total coincidence. The good news is that as of today, screening men for anal cancer will no longer cause gynecologists to lose their board certification.
Dr. Stier, for one, is thrilled. "Having canceled all the men out of my clinic, I now have to un-cancel them, she told the Times. "They’ll be very happy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.