Treating uterine fibroids markedly improves quality of life

March 17, 2011

Women who underwent hysterectomy or received less invasive treatment for uterine fibroids reported diminished symptoms and significantly improved quality of life, according to a new study published online March 1 in Radiology.

Women who underwent hysterectomy or received less invasive treatment for uterine fibroids reported diminished symptoms and significantly improved quality of life, according to a new study published online March 1 in Radiology.

Researchers surveyed 197 women, 62 of whom underwent hysterectomy, 74 who had minimally invasive uterine artery embolization (UAE), and 61 who had noninvasive MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) for symptomatic uterine fibroids between 2004 and 2006 at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The mean ages of the women in the 3 groups were 47, 44, and 47, respectively.

“Quality of life significantly increased following each of the fibroid treatment options,” says lead author Fiona M Fennessy, MD, PhD. “But patients rated the non- or minimally invasive treatments-UAE and MRgFUS-more favorably.”

Researchers compared the women’s actual experiences with the different treatments using short-term utility weights derived by the waiting trade-off (WTO) method. The WTO method, which is based on the tendency of people to wait longer to avoid unpleasant tests or procedures, assesses short-term quality-of-life in quality-adjusted life weeks. Women who underwent hysterectomy said that they would wait 21 weeks to avoid the surgery whereas women in the UAE and MRgFUS groups said they would postpone their procedure by only 14 weeks.

“Our study not only provides measures to aid in future cost-utility analysis of uterine fibroid treatments, but it may be helpful to patient and physician decision making with regard to treatment options,” Fennessy says. “Until now, we haven’t been able to evaluate all of the options with health-related quality-of-life measures, assessing symptom relief as well as the pain, anxiety, or recovery time associated with the treatment itself.”