What Is a Uterine Fibroid Tumor?
Fibroid tumors are usually benign (non-cancerous) tumors most often found in the uterus, although they occasionally develop in other organs which contain smooth muscle cells. They are the most common gynecological tumor in women.
Description of Fibroid Tumors
Fibroid tumors are solid tumors which are made of fibrous tissue, hence the name 'fibroid' tumor. Fibroid tumors vary in size and number, are most often slow-growing and usually cause no symptoms. Approximately 25% of fibroid tumors will cause symptoms and need medical treatment.
Fibroid tumors may grow as a single nodule or in clusters and may range in size from 1 mm to more than 20 cm in diameter. Fibroid tumors are the most frequently diagnosed tumor of the female pelvis and the most common reason for a woman to have a hysterectomy. Although they are often referred to as tumors, they are not cancerous.
The cause of fibroid tumors has not actually been determined, but most fibroids develop in women during their reproductive years. Fibroid tumors do not develop before the body begins producing estrogen. Fibroid tumors tend to grow very quickly during pregnancy when the body is producing extra estrogen. Once menopause has begun, fibroid tumors generally stop growing and can begin to shrink due to the loss of estrogen.
Is a Fibroid Tumor Synonymous with a Fibroid Cyst?
Fibroid tumors may be erroneously called fibroid cysts.
Alternative names for fibroid tumors are:
Leiomyoma; Fibromyoma; Myoma; Fibroids
Types of Fibroid Tumors
Fibroids are categorized by where they grow in the uterus.
Intramural fibroids are located in the wall of the uterus and are the most common. They can cause the uterus to bulge.
Submucous or Submucosal fibroids are found within uterine lining and can protrude into the uterine cavity. Generally, these are ones that can cause the most problems. Since they are located in the uterine endometrium, they can cause heavy prolonged bleeding during menstruation.
Subserous or Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside of the uterus and usually have the least symptoms. Subserous fibroids can become pedunculated as they grow, meaning they can develop a stalk. Subserous fibroids can grow to be very large. Click to see illustration
Until recently, hysterectomy was the preferred option for treating symptomatic fibroids. Now, however, there are a number of uterine fibroid treatments.
What are my uterine fibroids treatment alternatives?
Learn about a new MR Guided focused ultrasound treatment which destroys fibroids without incisions