A fibroid tumor is a growth that develops in the uterus, most commonly during childbearing years. These tumors aren’t cancerous and are unlikely to ever become cancerous, even if they’re left untreated. Fibroids can range in size considerably, from tumors that are undetectable to the naked eye to large masses that can stretch the uterus. Patients may have a single fibroid tumor or several.
Many fibroid tumors cause no symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, they may include:
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes fibroid tumors. However, they believe that hormones and genetic changes play a role. Some women are at a higher risk than others of developing fibroid tumors. Some risk factors for fibroids include using birth control, being obese, drinking alcohol, beginning menstruation at an early age, or having a family history of fibroid tumors.
In many cases, Dr. Slaughter may suspect fibroid tumors based on the patient’s symptoms and the results of a pelvic exam. To confirm the presence of fibroid tumors, Dr. Slaughter may order blood work and/or an ultrasound. In cases where Dr. Slaughter can’t confirm fibroids based on an ultrasound, she may order other tests, such as hysteroscopy, hysterosalpingography, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Treatment isn’t always necessary for patients with fibroid tumors. In many cases, these tumors don’t cause symptoms that bother the patient enough to warrant treatment. However, if the patient experiences bothersome symptoms, or if the tumor continues to grow, Dr. Slaughter may recommend medication or surgery to shrink or remove the tumor. Each of these treatments offers different advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Slaughter will explain each option carefully so that patients can make the best decision for them.
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