ACP says no need for pelvic exams

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The American College of Physicians issued new guidelines that run smack up against those of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: women, it says, can eschew yearly pelvic exams.

The Wall Street Journal reports the ACP based its recommendations on data from 1946 through 2014 which indicated the exams are not a major help in detecting diseases such as ovarian cancer and have not reduced overall mortality. ACP also noted that the exams cause many women stress. “I think it's something women don't necessarily look forward to,” former ACP president Sandra Adamson Fryhofer told the New York Times.

The Times notes that while gynecologists “agree that pelvic exams are not good tools for screening for ovarian cancer... experienced physicians can use pelvic exams to find other problems, such as noncancerous fibroids” as well as changes associated with sexual dysfunction and incontinence. The Times also notes that these exams up the cost of a woman's office visit because it prolongs the time of the visit and often requires a chaperone in the room.

Mount Sinai assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science Taraneh Shirazian told the Journal the exam should be part of an annual health review. “It may not be 100% sensitive, and it may not be able to pick up cancer of the ovary, but it gives us a baseline idea of the health,” she said.

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