Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumors in females, presenting as benign growths on the muscular wall of the uterus (womb). A uterine fibroid is also known as a fibroleiomyoma, meaning a benign smooth muscle neoplasm that contains collagenous fibrous tissue. As many as 1-in-5 women may have fibroids during their childbearing years. Although non-cancerous, fibroids can grow very large and may fill the entire uterus.
Although most fibroids are asymptomatic, many can grow and cause heavy and painful menstruation, painful sexual intercourse and urinary frequency and urgency. Indeed, uterine fibroids are a major indication for hysterectomy in the U.S. .
Earlier this month, the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC), a medical group of fibroid experts dedicated to curing fibroids with minimally invasive therapy, published on their blog the Top Ten Fibroid Facts, which we’ve republished below.
The Top 10 Fibroid Facts
- Uterine fibroids can affect women of all ages but are most common in women ages 40 to 50.
- Common symptoms, depending on size, location and number of fibroids, include:
- Pelvic pain and pressure
- Excessive bleeding, including prolonged periods and passage of clots, which can lead to anemia
- Abdominal swelling
- Pressure on the bladder, leading to frequent urination
- Pressure on the bowel, leading to constipation and bloating
- No one is sure why women develop fibroids, which affect 40% of women over 35 years in the U.S. and have a high rate of incidence among African Americans. There is a possible link between uterine fibroid tumors and estrogen production.
- Fibroids are diagnosed with an ultrasound in the gynecologist’s office. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is also used to determine how fibroids can be treated and provide information about any underlying disease.
- Uterine fibroids can be treated with surgery, including hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus, and myomectomy, which removes the fibroids but leaves the uterus. Both are major surgeries.
- Approximately 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually in the U.S., about 300,000 due to uterine fibroids.
- Over 50% of women who get hysterectomies have their ovaries removed, rendering them infertile.
- Embolization has emerged as the safest, simplest, cost effective way to treat fibroids. Embolization requires a very small incision. Embolization basically cures fibroids by starving them.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization has an overall success rate of 94%.
- Recurrence after embolization has not occurred. This is one of its major advantages over myomectomy, where fibroids which have been surgically removed often grow back.
For news and views on fibroids, follow Dr. Bruce McLucas, founder of the Fibroid Treatment Collective (FTC), a graduate of Yale Medical School and a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, on Twitter @FibroidDoctor.
To learn more about fibroids and treatment options, watch videos, see important statistics and ask Dr. McLucas questions (all from the comfort of your own home), check out the national fibroid webinar, which is scheduled for Saturday, May 15th at 10 a.m. PT. Visit http://www.fibroids.com/about-ftc/upcoming-events for details and free registration.
For additional independent information on the symptoms of fibroids and questions to ask your doctor, see Uterine Fibroids FAQ on womanshealth.gov
- Wallach and Vlahos. Uterine myomas: an overview of development, clinical features, and management. Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Aug;104(2):393-406.