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Women with fibroids are often recommended to have a hysterectomy instead of less invasive options

THURSDAY, July 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Women with uterine fibroids are often told a hysterectomy is the best treatment, even though less invasive options are available, a new study shows.

For more than half (53%) of women with uterine fibroids – noncancerous growths along the wall of the uterus – hysterectomy was suggested as the preferred treatment, according to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Society of Interventional Radiology.

Fewer than one in five women were offered less invasive options than a hysterectomy, a major surgical procedure involving complete removal of the uterus that requires several weeks of recovery:

  • 19% were offered pain-relieving NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

  • 17% were offered uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), in which the fibroids are shrunk by interrupting their blood supply.

  • 17% were offered endometrial ablation, in which the uterine lining is destroyed using laser, electric current or freezing.

  • 17% were offered hormonal contraception, which can help relieve the cramps and heavy bleeding associated with fibroids.

“The survey results, along with the small number of women offered minimally invasive treatment such as UFE, indicate that women are not being given all the information they need to make their own health care decisions,” report consultant Dr. John Lipman, founder and medical director of the Atlanta Fibroid Center, said in a press release.

The survey also found that about 17% of women mistakenly believe that hysterectomy is their only treatment option for uterine fibroids, including 27% of young women between the ages of 18 and 34.

“It is a major oversight not to offer minimally invasive treatments such as UFE alongside surgical treatment options,” Lipman added. “Women need to be informed about the full range of treatment options for their uterine fibroids; not just the surgical options as performed in most cases by gynecologists.”

According to Planned Parenthood, uterine fibroids don’t always cause symptoms. When they do, symptoms can include heavier periods, painful cramps, anemia, pain during sex, trouble urinating or passing stools, and infertility.

According to the survey results, more than half of women aged 18 to 34 (56%) and 35 to 44 (51%) are not familiar with uterine fibroids or have never heard of them.

The results show that this affects half of Hispanic women and nearly two in five black women (37%).

According to researchers, uterine fibroids are three times more common in black women and twice as common in Latino women.

However, survey results show that 36% of black women and 22% of Hispanic women mistakenly believe that they are not at risk for developing fibroids.

“The survey found large disparities in awareness and access to fibroids and fibroid treatment among black and Hispanic women, who are at higher risk for developing uterine fibroids,” said Dr. Robert Lewandowski, president of the Society of Interventional Radiology and professor at Northwestern Medicine Feinberg School of Medicine, in a press release.

“The data will serve as a guide to improving physician and patient education efforts about various treatments to ensure that all women, regardless of their background, are informed of their risks and the full range of treatment options available,” Lewandowski added.

The results of the survey are published in a report by the company entitled “ The Myoma Solution: What Women Need to Know.

The survey was conducted online from May 30 to June 3 among 1,122 U.S. women ages 18 and older, including 167 diagnosed with uterine fibroids. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

More information

Planned Parenthood offers more information about uterine fibroids.

SOURCE: The Reis Group, press release, July 9, 2024

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