Can Uterine Fibroids Cause Cancer?

Can Uterine Fibroids Cause Cancer?

Uterine fibroids are very common, affecting up to 80% of women by age 50. Some women never experience symptoms with fibroids. For some, however, these abnormal growths cause heavy bleeding during and between menstrual periods, uterine enlargement, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Dr. Mohammed Islam is a board-certified vascular surgeon at Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC. Located in the Midwood area of Brooklyn, New York, his practice offers highly effective, in-office, minimally invasive procedures to resolve symptoms and complications related to conditions such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), benign prostatic enlargement, and uterine fibroids.

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas, are abnormal growths that develop in the muscular tissue of the uterus. Most fibroids are asymptomatic.

Some fibroids, however, can grow large enough to place pressure on the bladder, rectum, and other tissue structures in the pelvic region. This can lead to symptoms such as:

Depending on their size and location, fibroids can also cause complications during pregnancy and birth that significantly increase your need for cesarean section.

While uterine fibroids don’t evolve into cancer and do not increase your risk of cancer, you may instead develop a type of cancerous tumor called a leiomyosarcoma

Uterine leiomyosarcomas are extremely rare, however. They’re diagnosed in less than six in one million women in the United States annually. 

Understanding fibroid treatment

Fibroid treatment depends on your symptoms and your desire for future pregnancies.

Women of childbearing age may choose treatment with birth control or other hormone-based medications that can help shrink the fibroids and decrease symptoms.

A surgical procedure called myomectomy, during which your surgeon removes just the tumor while sparing the uterus, may be a good choice if you’re planning a future pregnancy.

Hysterectomy, during which the uterus is removed entirely, may also be an option if you aren’t planning to have more children.

At Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC, Dr. Islam offers a nonsurgical solution called uterine fibroid embolization that effectively shrinks the tumor and resolves your symptoms while keeping the uterus intact.

What fibroid surgery does the FDA warn against? 

The FDA recommends that you avoid laparoscopic power morcellation if you decide to have a hysterectomy for fibroids. 

During this procedure, your surgeon uses a medical device to break the fibroid into pieces so it can be removed through a small abdominal incision.

Laparoscopic surgery is often preferred due to its small incision sizes and thus quicker healing compared to traditional hysterectomy, which requires a long incision in the lower abdomen to access the uterus.

Unfortunately, if you have undiagnosed uterine cancer or leiomyosarcoma, laparoscopic power morcellation greatly increases the risk of cancer spreading to your abdomen and pelvis. 

This is extremely rare, but for safety, the FDA recommends you and your surgeon consider other options for hysterectomy.

What is fibroid embolization?

Fibroid embolization is an in-office treatment that effectively shrinks fibroids without surgery or the need for daily medication. 

Using X-ray imaging for guidance, Dr. Islam injects a substance into the blood vessel, “feeding” the fibroid during the procedure. This blocks the blood supply, causes the fibroid to shrink and eliminates the need for hysterectomy.

There is no downtime required after fibroid embolization, and the puncture-size incision used to access the vein requires minimal aftercare. 

If you’re struggling with uterine fibroids but don’t wish to take medications or prefer a non-surgical treatment option, we can help. Schedule an evaluation at Vein and Vascular Solutions NYC today. Call the office or request an appointment online. 

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