Case of the Rapidly Growing Uterine Fibroid

July 12, 2011

A 47 year old woman with “rapidly growing uterine fibroid”. P.D.M. contacted us because she was told she had a rapidly growing fibroid. She wanted to avoid a hysterectomy, but in her home state of Wyoming was only offered hysterectomy with removal of both ovaries because of the possibility of cancer.

A 47 year old woman with “rapidly growing uterine fibroid”. P.D.M. contacted us because she was told she had a rapidly growing fibroid. She wanted to avoid a hysterectomy, but in her home state of Wyoming was only offered hysterectomy with removal of both ovaries because of the possibility of cancer. Several years ago she was noted to have a small myoma on ultrasound, but it appears to have grown rapidly in the last year. She noticed some pelvic pressure but no abnormal bleeding.

When she contacted my office we suggested that she get an MRI, which showed a 10 cm. (4 inch) mass in the uterus will cystic (fluid filled) areas (which are white), suggesting a degenerating fibroid. (This is a fibroid that has outgrown it’s blood supply.) Her MRI is shown to the left.

We discussed options, and the very low risk that this could be cancer. With that knowledge, she chose to come for a myomectomy.

P.D.M.’s myomectomy is shown in the photographs. An incision was made that was smaller than the fibroid, but it was possible to remove the fibroid through this incision.

Once the fibroid was partially removed it was possible to lift the uterus through the incision to aid in removing the fibroid entirely.

 

Here is the removed fibroid, which has been cut open to show the fluid filled areas.

The pathology report showed a benign degenerating uterine fibroid.

She left the hospital on the second day after surgery, and was able to return to Wyoming the following week.

Dr. Indman’s CommentP.D.M. was advised to have a hysterectomy because of concern that she may have had Leiomyosarcoma, or malignant fibroid.   A sarcoma is serious, but fortunately they are uncommon.  There is no evidence that benign fibroids can become malignant.   One large study has shown the risk of cancer in rapidly growing fibroids to be 0.26%, or about 1 in 400.   As 70-80% of women have fibroids (although many are too small to notice), and malignant fibroids are rare, it is hard to justify removing most fibroids or doing a hysterectomy because of the possibility of cancer.    In my patient’s situation the fibroid was growing rapidly and causing symptoms, so she chose to have it removed.

The decision to remove the fibroid or do a hysterectomy in a 47 year old woman who is not planning to have children is personal, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.  In the very unlikely chance that a malignancy is found, a hysterectomy would of course be necessary.  On the other hand, we would be doing hundreds of hysterectomies for benign fibroids to find one that had cancer.  In addition,  I would strongly recommend against taking out her ovaries, as the increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and other problems outweigh the risk of later developing ovarian cancer.

I feel that my role is to explain all of the reasonable options available to women, and help them make the best decision for their own lifestyle.  As P.D.M.  felt emotionally that she wanted to keep her uterus, and there was no medical need for a hysterectomy.    The fibroid was easily removed while leaving her uterus.

Editor's Note: This post was picked up from Uterine Fibroids blog: An Expert Speaks Out.The blog posts do not intend to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and are not a substitute for consultation with a physician. The postings are presented for educational purposes only