Fibroids and Cancer | The Cancer Risks of Fibroids in the Uterus

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Do Fibroids in the Uterus Increase Cancer Risks?

The word ‘tumor’ evokes feelings of fear largely because it is commonly associated with cancer. However, the majority of tumors are benign and unlikely to spread by metastases. This does not render them harmless, with some growths causing symptoms that are severe enough to warrant surgery.

Fibroids in uterus are muscular growths that form on the wall of the uterus or in the abdominal and endometrial cavities. When benign, they often cause heavy bleeding, abdominal enlargement, pain in the lower back, pelvic area and during periods and frequent urination. Many sufferers don’t experience any symptoms at all. In contrast, cancerous uterine fibroids grow quickly and can cause vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women, but even benign fibroids can grow at a rapid pace.

The Difference Between Cause and Correlation

In the past, studies have shown that there is no link between fibroids in uterus and cancer, but recent studies have revealed that women who are at increased risk of fibroids are also at increased risk of uterine cancer. This research has been misconstrued to mean that there is a causal link between the two, whereas it only reveals the already-known fact that postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 60 are more likely to suffer both from benign fibroids and uterine cancer.

As of yet, there are still no studies that can directly and causally link benign uterine fibroids to cancer. In essence, correlation is not the same as causation. The statistics reveal the rarity of cancerous fibroids, with only 1 in 1000 cases of uterine fibroids being malignant.

Dramatic Treatments

The presence of fibroids is cause for concern, given that there are overlapping symptoms for benign and malignant growths. Doctors use biopsies, pelvic exams, blood tests and MRIs to diagnose whether the growths are malignant or benign. Uterine fibroids can be extremely debilitating. 35 percent of premenopausal women with uterine fibroids find that their condition interferes with their lifestyles and ability to work. One of the most drastic cures and one that was commonly used until recently is a complete hysterectomy in cases where less invasive procedures were ineffective. This left those who had not yet reached menopause with infertility and early hormonal changes that produced their own disruptive symptoms.

Common Problems with Uncommon Solutions

Despite the fact that 20 percent of premenopausal women and 80 percent of postmenopausal women have benign fibroids, effective treatments have been notoriously evasive. Apart from the dramatic solution of hysterectomy, treatments include hormone replacement therapy, which comes with its own symptoms, myomectomy and endometrial ablation. The latter two surgical options involve the removal of the fibroids themselves or removing the uterus lining respectively. Both can render the sufferer infertile.

It is also possible to cut blood flow from the uterus to force growths to shrink. Whether this nonsurgical procedure leads to infertility remains unknown. However, it can come with rare complications such as premature menopause, the formation of scar tissue and the discontinuation of menstruation. For patients with minor symptoms, medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and birth control pills can help to relieve symptoms.

Many patients seeking to avoid the drastic medical options available to them have sought help through alternative therapies that hold little proven benefit. Nutritional changes target symptoms indirectly by preventing bloating that might make uterine pain worse. Attempts to change hormonal balance through dietary changes do not make room for patients who are not overweight or who are suffering from imbalances caused by stress. Herbal formulations remain unstandardized without the control and research of guided FDA regulations and trials.

In 2012, the FDA approved a non-invasive procedure that treats benign fibroids. Acessa is a laparoscopic procedure that negates the need for harsh surgeries while removing only the fibroids rather than the tissue surrounding them. Radiofrequency energy is used to target only the tissue causing symptoms, offering a workable same-day solution that is as effective as it is safe.

Looking For More Information on Treating Fibroids?

If you feel you may have the symptoms or have been diagnosed with uterine fibroid tumors, it is a good idea to discuss all of the available treatments for fibroids.

Click on Physician Finder to find an Acessa-trained physician near you to see if the Acessa procedure is right for you. Or for more information, please contact Acessa Health at 877.412.3828.

Sources

  1. http://obgyn.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=289
  2. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/uterus.pdf
  3. http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/uterine/conditioninfo/faqs/Pages/Do-fibroids-lead-to-cancer.aspx
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