Uterine fibroids are tumors that grow inside or on the uterus. Though fibroids are usually benign, or noncancerous, many people still wonder about the relationship between fibroids and cancer, especially since so many women — approximately 33 percent — develop fibroids before age 50.
Uterine fibroids are common. However, in rare cases, they can contain cancer. Here’s what you need to know about fibroid cancer to protect yourself and find peace of mind.
What Is Fibroid Cancer?
Fibroid cancer, also called leiomyosarcoma, refers to a fibroid composed of cancer cells. In comparison to noncancerous fibroids, cancerous fibroids grow quickly and may spread cancer cells to other parts of the body if left untreated or treated incorrectly. Doctors believe that leiomyosarcomas arise independently of existing fibroids, which means that existing fibroids don’t increase your chances of developing fibroid cancer.
Though fibroid cancer does occur, it is extremely rare.
Fewer than 1 in 1,000 fibroids are cancerous. The true problem cancerous fibroids present is the challenge of differentiating them from benign tumors.
Symptoms of Fibroid Cancer
Because normal uterine fibroids and cancerous fibroids both grow in the same locations, it can be difficult to tell them apart, especially since they may cause similar symptoms. Due to the risk cancerous fibroids pose, it’s essential to seek advice from a doctor or specialist to obtain a proper diagnosis.
In addition to symptoms associated with normal uterine fibroids, signs that a fibroid may be cancerous include:
- Quick growth of the fibroid
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Anemia from heavy bleeding
- Unusual findings from imaging tests
Furthermore, some factors, such as age and genetics, may increase your likelihood of developing fibroid cancer.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re experiencing symptoms of fibroids or something more dangerous, use our symptom checker and contact a doctor.
Fibroid Cancer and Treatment
Though the risk of developing fibroid cancer is low, it’s still important to keep in mind when you’re considering treatment for uterine fibroids. Some treatments for benign fibroids can worsen a prognosis when they’re unknowingly used on cancerous fibroids.
If your doctor recommends a hysterectomy or myomectomy to treat symptoms of fibroids, make sure to ask whether a power morcellator is involved in the procedure. Doctors once used this tool to break up fibroids and make them easier to remove. Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against their use due to the risk of spreading undiagnosed cancer cells to other parts of the body.
Instead of a treatment that breaks up fibroids to remove them, look for fibroid treatments that leave the tumors in one piece.
Find Support With USA Fibroid Centers
Being diagnosed with uterine fibroids can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re worried about cancer. It’s important to have all of the facts when it comes to fibroids and treatment.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we’re dedicated to helping people like you find relief from fibroid symptoms to live healthier, happier lives. To speak to one of our experienced fibroid specialists, contact us and schedule a consultation today.