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Mayo Clinic Survey: Uterine Fibroids Affect Quality of Life, Workplace Performance

African-American women have more symptoms (October 24)

Uterine leiomyomas (fibroids) cause significant fear and morbidity and can compromise workplace performance, according to a Mayo Clinic survey of nearly 1,000 women in the U.S. The results were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and in the Journal of Women’s Health. The findings shed new light on the effect, prevalence, and treatment concerns related to uterine fibroids, which affect up to 80% of women by the age of 50.

The survey assessed diagnosis, information-seeking behaviors, attitudes about fertility, effect on work, and treatment preferences among women living with uterine fibroids for an average of nearly 9 years. The researchers found that women delayed seeking treatment an average of 3.6 years, with 32% of women waiting more than 5 years. Most women reported fears associated with their fibroids, including being afraid that the fibroids will grow (79%) and that they will need a hysterectomy (55%), as well as fears regarding relationships, sexual function, body image, loss of control, and hopelessness. Almost two-thirds (66%) of women were concerned about missed days from work due to their symptoms, and 24% of employed respondents felt that their symptoms prevented them from reaching their career potential. Most of the women said they prefer a minimally invasive treatment option that preserves the uterus.

African-American women were significantly more likely to have severe or very severe symptoms, including heavy or prolonged menses and anemia. They also reported more often that fibroids interfered with physical activities and relationships, and were more likely to miss days from work. Almost one-third (32%) of African-American women waited more than 5 years before seeking treatment for their fibroids, compared with only 17% of Caucasian women. Similarly, while 43% of Caucasian women said they sought treatment within 1 year or less, only 20% of African-American women did the same.

When presented with treatment descriptions, most of the women (60%) rated focused ultrasound as their top treatment choice. This therapy uses high-intensity sound waves to heat and destroy uterine fibroid cells while leaving surrounding tissue intact.

Source: Mayo Clinic; October 24, 2013.

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