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That experimental treatment aside, women should carefully weigh the pros and cons of multiple options before deciding what's best for them, Sharp advises:
Surgically removing the uterus remains a key fibroid treatment because it's the only way to ensure fibroids don't return. Fibroids account for about 240,000 of the nation's 600,000 annual hysterectomies.
Myomectomy, surgery that removes fibroids while leaving the uterus intact, is the only option yet recommended for women who still want to become pregnant. Depending on the fibroid's size and location, it sometimes can be done minimally invasively rather than through open abdominal surgery. Later pregnancies usually require c-section deliveries.
Far less invasive is uterine artery embolization, or UAE. Doctors inject plastic pellets into certain uterine arteries to cut off the blood supply feeding the fibroids, which gradually shrink. Premature menopause is a risk.
MRI-guided focused ultrasound requires no incision. Patients sit motionless in MRI machines as doctors use those scans to guide high-intensity sound waves to shrink the fibroids. There is debate over the best size of fibroid to treat, and long-term outcomes are still under study.
That's where the NIH-funded comparison of UAE and focused ultrasound comes in.
Another consideration is how much time women likely have before menopause, when fibroids naturally shrink, cautions Utah's Sharp. With UAE and myomectomy, between 20 percent and 30 percent of women get another procedure or hysterectomy about five years later because of fibroid recurrence, he says.
On the Net:
Fibroid study details: http://tinyurl.com/ycuha2d and http://tinyurl.com/yflyjl7
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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