Uterine fibroids are the most common tumors within the female reproductive system, so all women are at a potential risk of developing them.
- The majority of uterine fibroids are diagnosed and treated in women between the ages of 35 and 54. However, fibroids can and do occur in women under the age of 35, even as young as the early 20’s.
- Studies demonstrate the prevalence of fibroids in 20-40% of women older than 35 years of age(1).
- Multiple lines of evidence suggest that uterine fibroids have a disproportional effect on African-American women. African-American women have a higher cumulative risk of uterine fibroids(2), a threefold greater incidence and relative risk of fibroids(3)(4), and an earlier age of onset(5).
- Most clinicians believe that shrinking of fibroids will occur when a woman goes through menopause.
During your annual gynecological examination your doctor will perform a vaginal exam and check the size of your uterus. If it feels enlarged, your doctor may prescribe an ultrasound, which can confirm the presence, location and size of fibroid tumors. Other methods can be used to confirm uterine fibroids including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After identifying the size and location of your fibroid(s), and also after other diagnostic tests, your doctor may recommend ruling out other, potentially more serious conditions and advise you of your options and a recommended course of uterine fibroid treatment.
(1)Wallach EE. Myomectomy. In: Thompson JD, Rock JA, eds. Te Linde’s Operative Gynecology, 7th ed. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1992; pp 647-662.
(2)Baird DD, Dunson DB, Hill MC, Cousins D, Schectman JM. High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003;188:100–107.
(3)Marshall LM, Spiegelman D, Barbieri RL, et al. Variation in the incidence of uterine leiomyoma among premenopausal women by age and race. Obstet Gynecol. 1997;90:967–973.
(4)Wise LA, Palmer JR, Stewart EA, Rosenberg L. Age-specific incidence rates for self-reported uterine leiomyomata in the Black Women’s Health Study. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;105: 563–568.
(5)Huyck KL, Panhuysen CI, Cuenco KT, et al. The impact of race as a risk factor for symptom severity and age at diagnosis of uterine leiomyomata among affected sisters. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008;198:168 e161–169.