Even though 70-80% of women can have fibroids during their life, many women don’t know what uterine fibroids are, and sometimes don’t learn about all of their treatment options. Here are a few myths and misconceptions about fibroids explained by our Interventional Radiologists who specialize in treating fibroids.
Myth 1: Fibroids, Tumors, Polyps, and Cysts are the Same
In a recent blog post, we discussed the differences and similarities between fibroids and polyps in the uterus. But, you may hear other similar terms, like tumor or cyst. Many people don’t know whether these terms mean the same thing, or they all refer to different conditions.
- A fibroid is a benign growth and is rarely associated with cancer. These growths develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. You may hear a fibroid referred to as a “fibroid tumor” even though it is benign.
- A polyp is made of endometrium tissue and is usually benign.
- A cyst will develop on the ovaries and can be malignant.
- The phrase “uterine tumors” typically signifies uterine fibroids, and are benign. Uterine cancer, however, refers to a malignant growth of cells in the uterus.
Myth 2: A Fibroid Tumor is Cancerous
Fibroids are almost always benign and rarely turn into cancer. The difference in symptoms between cancer and a benign fibroid will help your doctor diagnose a growth as malignant. Cancer is sometimes diagnosed during surgery for what is thought to be benign fibroid tumors.
Myth 3: Fibroids Have Consistent, Defined Symptoms
There is no one symptom that will alert you to the fact that you have uterine fibroids. Many women have uterine fibroids at some point during their life, but most don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, or pelvic pain, but there are other symptoms that women can experience.
Myth 4: Surgery is Your Best Option
If you don’t experience symptoms, treatment isn’t necessary, and many fibroids will shrink after menopause. There are a variety of treatment options available if you do experience symptoms. For women who want a non-surgical alternative, want to preserve their uterus, or want a quicker recovery period, Uterine Fibroid Embolization may be recommended.
Myth 5: Fibroids Continue to Grow, and will Grow Back after Treatment
Fibroids typically grow in alignment with hormone levels, which is why symptoms worsen during menstruation. This is also the reason fibroids may grow during pregnancy, but shrink after menopause. During UFE, the blood flow is cut off to existing fibroids, and it is very rare for them to regrow. In one study, only 5% of women needed additional treatment after UFE.