Fibroids are non-cancerous (benign) tumors that grow from the muscle layers of the uterus (womb). They are also known as uterine fibroids, myomas, or fibromyomas. Fibroids are growths of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. Fibroids can vary in size, from that of a bean to as large as a melon.
Fibroids affect at least 20% of all women at sometime during their life. Women aged between 30 and 50 are the most likely to develop fibroids. Overweight and obese women are at significantly higher risk of developing fibroids, compared to women of normal weight.
Malignant (cancerous) growths on the smooth muscles inside the womb can develop, called leiomyosarcoma of the womb. However, this is extremely rare.
Most women have no symptoms. That is why most patients with fibroids do not know they have them. When symptoms do develop, they may include:
Anemia (as a result of heavy periods)
Discomfort in the lower abdomen (especially if fibroids are large)
Heavy painful periods
Pain in the legs
Swelling in the lower abdomen (especially if fibroids are large)
Other symptoms may include:
Heredity may also be a factor. Women whose mothers and/or sisters have/had fibroids have a higher risk of developing them too.
How are fibroids diagnosed? In most cases, the symptoms of fibroids are rarely felt and the patient does not know she has them. They are usually discovered during a vaginal examination.
If the doctor thinks fibroids may be present he/she may use an ultrasound scan to find out. Ultrasound can also eliminate other possible conditions which may have similar symptoms. Ultrasound scans are often used when the patient has heavy periods and blood tests have revealed nothing conclusive.
When treatment is necessary it may be in the form of medication or surgery.
Consult Dr. Ritu Mittal for more information