BENIGN BUT BEWARE
Uterine fibroids are possibly the most common type of non-cancerous, in other words benign, growths that develop in the muscular wall of the uterus. 20-25% of women in childbearing age are affected although there is a growing number of young patients with the condition, and the chance of its occurrance increases before the years of menopause.
Fibromas usually go undetected for a while until a routine gynaecological check-up or ultrasound screening reveals their growth. However, irregular menstruation, painful abdominal cramps and intermenstrual bleeding could be indicative symptoms.
Advanced fibromas on the other hand may induce dull or even sharp pain in the lower abdominal or dorsal areas, as the growing fibroids exert pressure on the adjacent organs. Typical signs of uterine fibromas include aborted pregnancies, a series of ineffectual conception and embedding of the fertilized egg, and premature birth.
The possible reasons behind fibromas range from genetic predisposition through to hormonal unbalance, most likely caused by the malfunction of the ovaries.
Untreated fibromas can make life hell for women. Early detection and constant check-ups to monitor the growth of the fibroids after diagnosis are vitally important. Apart from endoscopic surgery to remove the fibromas (myomectomy) there are non-surgical methods, such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which effectively blocks the blood vessels that feed the fibromas.
GOOD TO KNOW
• Fibromas are the most common non-cancerous medical condition in women above 35.
• Although 20-25% of women above 35 have fibromas, only 3.3% have health issues associated with uterine fibroids.
• Even undetected fibromas compromise the general wellbeing of patients.
• Uterine fibroids can range in size from tiny nodules the fraction of an inch to the size of a pregnancy in the second trimester.
• Often there is more than one fibroid growth in the uterus.
“Fibromas cannot be prevented. If a woman’s mother or sister has been diagnosed with the condition it is more likely that she will be affected at one point. After the surgical removal of the fibroid growth it is most likely that new growth will occur sooner or later, making vigilance and regular screenings a necessity. Patients who wish to become pregnant are advised to have benign tumours larger than 2cm surgically removed (myomectomy). Depending on the position of the fibroma, either laparoscopy (keyhole surgery through the abdominal wall) or hysteroscopy (endoscopy through the vagina) are the preferred options. In case of diffuse fibromas that affect the entire uterus the surgical removal of the womb (hysterectomy) may be unavoidable.“It is vital to have an expert diagnosis and proper early treatment, as it irrevocably determines future options for the patient. Unfortunately for many women medical professionals often consider hysterectomy as the only solution to the problem. Modern endoscopic surgery, on the other hand, provides less invasive procedures and faster recovery for our patients,” sums up the prospects for fibroma patients Dr. Elemér Illanitz, head of the obstetric / gynecology department at Dr. Rose Private Hospital.