Q: What are uterine fibroids/uterine tumors?
A: Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They are found in 70% of women. Fibroids can vary in size, shape, location, and number. They can grow over many years, or grow very suddenly. Some women with uterine fibroids show no symptoms, or can manage their symptoms without treatment. Others may need treatment for their pain.
Q: What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?
A: If you notice changes in menstruation, menstrual cramping, vaginal bleeding that is not due to menstruation, anemia as a result of blood loss from changes in menstruation or vaginal bleeding, pain in the abdomen or lower back, pain during sex, difficulty with or more frequent urination, constipation, or rectal pain, uterine fibroids may be responsible. If any of these symptoms exist, visit your healthcare provider for an evaluation.
Q: Can uterine fibroids lead to cancer?
A: It is extremely rare for fibroids to become cancerous.
Q: I am having symptoms that are affecting my life. What are my treatment options?
A: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken for pain, and iron supplements can be taken for anemia. To control bleeding, many women use hormonal birth control methods, or a progestin releasing intrauterine device. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists are used to stop the menstrual cycle and shrink fibroids. They can only be used for less than 6 months and after stopping the medication, fibroids usually return to previous size. If your healthcare provider suggests surgery, then a myomectomy (removal of the fibroids), or hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may be recommended. Speak to a healthcare provider about an option that is best for you.
Q: I am not interested in major surgery or medication; are there other options available?
A: Yes, other options may include: a hysteroscopy, which removes fibroids with electricity or laser beam, an endometrial ablation, which destroys the lining of the uterus (for women with fibroids less than 3 cm), a uterine artery embolization that shrinks fibroids by injecting tiny particles into the blood vessels that lead to the uterus, and magnetic resonance imaging-guided ultrasound surgery that uses ultrasound waves to destroy the fibroids.
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