Addressing Concerns About Fibroids Complication: Are Fibroids Cancerous? 

Dinesh Patel
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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are fibroids cancerous

Uterine Fibroids are a common occurrence among women of reproductive age, affecting millions worldwide. 

These non-cancerous growths, known as leiomyomas or myomas, develop within the uterine walls and can vary significantly in size and symptoms. 

While they are prevalent, often causing discomfort and complications, a prevalent question lingers–Are Fibroids cancerous?

This article looks into the intricate interplay between Fibroids and cancer. 

Are uterine Fibroids cancerous?

Most uterine Fibroids are benign, meaning they are non-cancerous growths originating from the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus. 

Fact:
By the age of 45, as many as 70% of White women and 80% of Black women will have Fibroids.

While Fibroids can cause symptoms such as pelvic pain or heavy menstrual bleeding, they rarely lead to serious health complications.

Importantly, having benign uterine Fibroids does not increase the chances of developing other types of uterine cancers. 

Therefore, for the vast majority of individuals with Fibroids, concerns about cancer are unfounded.

Recommended Article
Abnormal bleeding in Fibroids is a common symptom and does not cause cancer. But bleeding after Menopause is not normal and can indicate cancer. 
Read, Is Bleeding After Menopause Always Cancer to know more about it. 

Cancer risk from uterine Fibroid surgery

doctors performing surgery with surgical instrumentsSource: AndreyPopov_from_Getty_Images
Doctors performing surgery

One common treatment option for Fibroids involves minimally invasive techniques such as laparoscopy. 

However, the US Food and Drug Administration has warned about the potential risk associated with a specific surgical technique known as laparoscopic power morcellation.

Laparoscopic power morcellation is a procedure used to remove uterine Fibroids by breaking them into smaller pieces, allowing for removal through small abdominal incisions. 

This technique carries a significant risk if the patient also has undetected uterine cancer, specifically uterine Sarcoma.

Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the muscle and supportive tissues of the uterus. It develops in the uterus’s muscular layers rather than the lining.

The concern arises from the possibility that morcellation may spread cancer within the abdomen and pelvis, complicating the treatment of uterine Sarcoma. 

This diagnosis often occurs when tissue removed during surgery is examined under a microscope.

Uterine Fibroid and Sarcoma

Symptoms associated with both Fibroids and Sarcomas can overlap, making accurate diagnosis challenging. 

Like Sarcoma, Fibroids have common symptoms with Endometriosis. To know the difference between these conditions, Endometriosis and Fibroids: A Closer Look at Similarities and Differences

Warning:
Misdiagnosing Sarcoma as a benign Fibroid can lead to the unchecked progression of cancer, jeopardizing the patient’s health and well-being. So, it’s important to tell your doctors every symptom you are facing for an accurate diagnosis. 

The distinction between benign Fibroids and malignant Sarcomas is critical yet complex. 

Several factors can aid in distinguishing between the two:

  • Sarcomas are more common in women over the age of 50. Therefore, sudden growth or new symptoms in this age group should raise suspicion for Sarcoma
  • While both uterine Fibroids and Sarcomas can cause some common symptoms, Sarcomas may present with more aggressive symptoms, such as rapidly increasing size
  • A biopsy is the most reliable method for distinguishing between uterine Fibroids and Sarcomas. Tissue obtained can be examined under a microscope for characteristic features of Sarcoma, such as abnormal cell growth and invasion into surrounding tissues

Conclusion

The vast majority of uterine Fibroids are non-cancerous and pose minimal health risks. 

However, there is a rare but serious concern of Fibroids becoming cancerous, particularly with procedures like laparoscopic power morcellation.

This procedure for Fibroids can mistakenly spread cancerous tissue if present.

The risk associated with uterine Sarcoma underscores the importance of careful evaluation and consideration before undergoing Fibroid surgery. 

The potential spread of cancerous tissue through morcellation underscores the need for thorough preoperative assessment and informed consent procedures to mitigate this risk.

Fibroids and Sarcomas have some common symptoms, so a biopsy is a great method for accurate diagnosis.

While uterine Fibroids are benign and do not progress to cancer, adherence to appropriate surgical protocols can mitigate risks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Fibroids turn into cancer?

Fibroids themselves do not directly turn into cancer. However, in rare cases, a type of cancer called Sarcoma can arise in the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus, and it may be difficult to distinguish it from a benign fibroid without proper testing.

Are calcified Fibroids cancerous?

Calcified Fibroids, where calcium deposits accumulate within the Fibroid tissue, are typically benign. The presence of calcifications does not necessarily indicate cancer. However, if there are other concerning features, such as rapid growth or atypical appearance, further evaluation may be needed to rule out cancer.

What happens if Fibroids go untreated?

If uterine Fibroids go untreated, they can lead to complications such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, bladder and bowel problems, infertility, or pregnancy complications. While not all Fibroids require treatment, a healthcare provider should evaluate those causing significant symptoms or complications to discuss appropriate treatment options. 

What size do Fibroids need surgery?

The decision to undergo surgery for Fibroids is not solely based on their size but also on the symptoms they cause and their location. However, typically, Fibroids larger than 5 centimeters in diameter are more likely to cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, or pressure and may require surgical intervention. 

Citations:
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