Uterine Fibroids

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths made of smooth muscle cells and connective tissue that develop within the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters and are not associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer. In rare cases, they may grow on stems projecting from the surface of the uterus. Each patient with fibroids may have varying symptoms, sizes, number, and location. Each fibroid is unique and one of a kind, which requires individualization of therapeutic options. Fibroids can be categorized based on where in the uterine wall they grow:
 
  • Submucosal fibroids grow just underneath the uterine lining and into the endometrial cavity.
  • Intramural fibroids grow in between the muscles of the uterus.
  • Subserosal fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus.
 
Risk factors
 
  • Age older than 40 years
  • African American race
  • Obesity
  • Family history of uterine fibroids
  • High blood pressure
  • No history of pregnancy
  • Low levels of vitamin D
 
Diagnosis
 
  • X-ray. Electromagnetic energy used to produce images of bones and internal organs onto film.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound (also called ultrasonography). An ultrasound test using a small instrument, called a transducer, that is placed in the vagina. It uses sound waves to get a picture of your uterus to confirm the diagnosis and to map and measure fibroids.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A non-invasive procedure that produces a two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure. 
  • Lab tests. If you have abnormal menstrual bleeding, your doctor may order other tests to investigate potential causes. These might include a complete blood count (CBC) to determine if you have anemia because of chronic blood loss and other blood tests to rule out bleeding disorders or thyroid problems.
  • Endometrial biopsy. A procedure in which a sample of tissue is obtained through a tube which is inserted into the uterus.
  • Hysteroscopy. Visual examination of the canal of the cervix and the interior of the uterus using a viewing instrument (hysteroscope) inserted through the vagina.
  • Hysterosonography uses sterile saline to expand the uterine cavity, making it easier to get images of submucosal fibroids and the endometrium.
  • Hysterosalpingography uses a dye to highlight the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes on X-ray images. Your doctor may recommend it if infertility is a concern. 
 
Treatment
A vast number of treatment options are available to control symptoms and/or remove fibroids. 
 
 
# UTERINE FIBROIDS BY THE NUMBERS #
  • At least 25%-80% of women suffer from uterine fibroids.
  • Affects about 30% of women ages 30-45. 
  • In more than 99% of fibroid cases, the tumors are benign (non-cancerous).
  • Between 80- 90% of African American women and 70% of white women will develop fibroids by age 50
 
 
 

Sources
  • "Uterine Fibroids & Uterine Leiomyomata." Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.
  • "Uterine Fibroids." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 06 July 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
  • "Uterine Fibroids." Uterine Fibroids | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.
  • McMacken, Melissa. "Uterine Fibroids." Johns Hopkins Medicine, Based in Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins Health System, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.
  • "Uterine Fibroids: Condition Information." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 02 May 2017.

 

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that commonly present themselves during pregnancy. Fibroids differ in size, ranging from seedlings that are undetectable to the human eye to large masses that can enlarge the uterus. Many women develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives. By the age of 50, roughly 70 percent of white women and 80 percent of African Americans have had fibroids.
 
 

uterine fibroids 101

 


 

 

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