What are the symptoms of cancerous uterine fibroids?
Basically, there are two significant symptoms which indicate that a fibroid may be cancerous.
- Rapid growth of the fibroids or the uterus.
- Postmenopausal vaginal bleeding.
Up till now, research has not provided any evidence to link the rate of growth of fibroids with cancer. In other words, rapidly growing fibroids don't necessarily indicate the presence of cancer.
However, the situation is a bit different in postmenopausal women. Studies suggest that the incidence of cancerous fibroids increases in women in their 50s and 60s.
Therefore, if a woman is in her postmenopausal years, and is not on estrogen replacement therapy, fibroids in the uterus may be a cause of concern.
Are there tests to detect cancerous uterine fibroids?
Doctors use different procedures to determine whether the fibroids are cancerous or not.
Some of them are:
- Pelvic Examination - The uterus, vagina, cervix and ovaries are thoroughly examined to determine any abnormality in their shape and size.
- Biopsy - This involves removing a small tissue sample of the fibroid and examining it under a microscope to detect any abnormality.
- MRI/LDH Tests - A recent study found that by using a combination of a special MRI and a blood test called LDH, the diagnosis of uterine sarcoma could be reliably made without any surgery.
What are the treatment options for cancerous fibroids?
Surgical removal of the uterus, or hysterectomy, is the best procedure for the treatment of cancerous fibroids.
Can anything be done to prevent or lower the risk of developing cancer?
Unfortunately, the development of uterine fibroids cannot be prevented, basically because the cause of fibroids is still not clearly known.
However, research is underway and in the near future it is expected that enough will be known about uterine fibroids to prevent the growth of cancerous fibroids.
Other studies involving Black women, who have a slightly higher rate of fibroid incidents than other racial groups, revealed that the risk of occurrence of uterine fibroids could be lowered by:
- Exercising regularly to keep one's weight under check
- Consuming green vegetables and fruits
- Using the combined birth control pill (oestrogen and progestogen) to keep hormone levels from peaking and falling. However, the pill is associated with some side effects and shouldn't be taken without a prescription.