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Wednesday, August 01, 2007 9:00 AM

HC411R - Treating Uterine Fibroids

Debra: This is Healthcare 411.  The jury is still out about how to treat uterine fibroids.  More after this 


Voice 1: Why do I need the operation?

Voice 2: Are there alternatives to surgery?

Voice 3: And what are the risks involved?

Announcer: Every year, more than 15 million Americans have surgery.  If you’re considering surgery, you need to make an informed decision.  Ask your doctor to answer questions and explain alternatives clearly. To learn more read the booklet Having Surgery: What You Need To Know found at www.ahrq.gov/consumer. A message from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[End PSA]

Debra:  This is Healthcare 411.  Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors within the uterus that can cause pain, heavy bleeding, frequent urination, and problems with conception.  A new review of studies about treating fibroids did not find any clear answers. 

Dr. Viswanathan:  The good news is that women can seek a large variety of treatments for uterine fibroids. 

Debra: Dr. Meera Viswanathan, Deputy Director of AHRQ’s RTI InternationalUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Evidence-based Practice Center

Dr. Viswanathan: The most established treatment is hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus.  Other therapies may include myomectomy, and uterine artery embolization.  These treatments preserve a woman’s uterus and maybe her ability to conceive.  The bad news is that few well-structured studies have compared these different types of treatments in terms of complications or long-term symptom relief. 

Debra:  Nearly 70 percent of white women and more than 80 percent of black women develop one or more fibroids by age 50. 

Dr. Viswanathan:  Fibroids are both common and problematic for women.  And choosing among treatments can be very difficult. Women deserve better information, which can come only from more and higher-quality research about treatment options.

Debra: Learn more at www.healthcare411.org. I’m Debra James.  Healthcare 411 is produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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