Uterine Fibroid

Uterine fibroids, medically termed leiomyoma, fibromyoma or myoma but commonly known as fibroids, are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow within the muscular layer of the uterus. Fibroids are composed of muscle and fibrous tissue, which give them a firm texture.

Fibroids are commonest benign tumors in women and mostly affect them in their middle or late reproductive years (over the age of 30), although some young women in their 20s also develop fibroids. These tumors usually come in multiples (can be up to a hundred), and can vary hugely in size - from tiny pea-sized to larger than a melon.

Types

The types of fibroids are classified according to the location where they grow within the uterus. There are mainly three types of fibroids:

Some fibroids are attached to the uterus by a thin stalk called peduncle. These fibroids are generally known as pedunculated fibroids. For fibroids that grow within the cervix, which are relatively rare, they are known as cervical fibroids.

Types of Fibroids
Figure 1: Types of Fibroids.

Cause

The actual cause of fibroid is not completely known. Factors such as hereditary, race, and oestrogen level, however, are conclusively linked to the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Many women with fibroids do not experience any unusual signs or symptoms and mostly only discover the fibroids' existence incidentally during a routine pelvic or ultrasound examination. Nevertheless, appearance of symptoms is certainly possible and can be highly troubling sometimes. The most common symptoms of fibroids are as follows:

Diagnosis

Treatment Options

Surgery is considered the standard treatment for women who suffering from fibroids. Two most common procedures to surgically remove fibroids are hysterectomy and myomectomy. An alternative to surgery is uterine artery embolization (UAE).

As fibroids normally will lyse themselves after menopause, surgery is usually not recommended for small (less than 5 cm) and asymptomatic fibroids. For these fibroids, no treatment except constant surveillance of their growth is required.

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