Fibroid tumors are benign growths on the muscular wall of the uterus. They can be tiny in size, like a marble, or grow huge and fill up the entire uterine cavity. Some fibroids are as large as a five-month pregnancy. Here are some facts that women should know about fibroids:
- Fibroids can occur at any age, but are most common between ages 40-50.
- Common symptoms are prolonged or heavy periods, pelvic pain and pressure, abdominal swelling, pressure on the bladder leading to frequent urination, pressure on the bowel leading to bloating, and infertility. (note: these can also be the symptoms of ovarian cancer, so seeking a diagnosis is critical).
- Fibroids are almost always benign (noncancerous). Fibroids do not increase the risk of cancer.
- There is a possible link between fibroid tumors and estrogen production, and 40% of women over age 35 have fibroids.
- Women who are African-American or who have a mother with fibroids are more likely to get fibroids.
- Women who are overweight or eat red meat are at higher risk for fibroids.
- Fibroids are diagnosed with an ultrasound and sometimes MRI.
- Uterine fibroids can be treated with surgery like hysterectomy or myomectomy (removal of just the fibroid).
- Embolization is another way to treat fibroids and has an overall success rate of 94%. It is done through a small incision and an agent is injected into the artery that cuts off the blood supply to the fibroid. The fibroid shrinks away.