Fibroid Tumors: What Every Woman Must Know

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There probably isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t feel a wave of terror when their doctor mentions the word tumor. But when it’s a fibroid tumor, experts say there is little to fear.

“There is virtually no threat of malignancy — and there are a number of excellent treatment options, as well as the option to do nothing at all — so there really is no reason to worry,” says Steve Goldstein, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Medical Center.

Medications that shrink fibroids by reducing hormonal stimulation, primarily a GnRH angonist known as Lupron.
What It Accomplishes: Turns off the production of steroid hormones without which fibroids shrink. However, they generally return when treatment is stopped.
Best Suited for: Women with very small fibroids or those who wish to shrink tumors prior to surgery. Also frequently used to halt severe bleeding, allowing a woman to build their blood supply for transfusion prior to a myomectomy.

What You Should Know: Though this treatment does shrink tumors, Goldstein says it is unsafe to use for longer than nine months, after which time the fibroids generally return. However, he says it can be the treatment of choice for women who are very close to anemia.What It Accomplishes: It may help carry a woman through to their menopause without treatment, after which time hormone levels drop and fibroids disappear on their own. Best Suited for: Women with minimal symptoms who are nearing menopause and who have completed their childbearing.

What You Should Know: If symptoms are not severe, Goldstein says women should be wary of being talked into treatment they might not need.

Adds Goldstein: “As long as the fibroids are not causing severe pain or heavy bleeding, it is safe to leave them alone — even if they are fast growing.”