The Relationship Between Fibroids and Cancer
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 70 to 80 percent — develop fibroids before age 50.
Uterine fibroids are common. However, in a few, rare cases, they can contain cancer. Here’s what you need to know about fibroid cancer to be aware 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.
How Worried Should You Be About Fibroid Cancer?
The short answer is: Not very. Since less than 1 in 1,000 are found to be cancerous, it is highly unlikely that your fibroid would contain cancerous cells. Our doctors review all ultrasounds and MRIs very closely to determine if a fibroid is cancerous or not. If more tests are needed to verify, our doctors will create a plan that fits this need. We understand this may be an immediate worry when being diagnosed with fibroids, so we make certain our patients are aware and told everything they need to know about their individual situation.
We include this section about fibroids and cancer on our page, because we want our patients to be as informed as possible about fibroids. When you come into our center for your consultation, our doctors will answer any and all questions about this topic before preceding with any treatment.
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 very 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.
Power morcellators, tools sometimes used in hysterectomies and myomectomies, have recently been associated with spreading cancer cells. 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. This is another reason why a minimally invasive treatment such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a safe, effective choice to treat fibroid symptoms. Uterine Fibroid Embolization does not use power morcellators which can unintentionally spread cancerous cells. UFE leaves the tumors in one piece and instead, blocks off the blood supply through the arteries to the fibroids causing them to shrink and die naturally.
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.