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During their lifetime, most women will develop uterine fibroids–a type of benign tumor that can wreak havoc on your general and sexual health. In recognition of this widespread problem, Dr. Oz recently devoted an entire episode of his daytime talk show to discussing this widespread female health problem.
In the show, Dr. Oz revealed that a shocking 70% of women are affected by fibroids, but most don’t know that they have a problem. How could that be? The reason is simple: too many women don’t know what symptoms they need to look for, or how to assess their fibroid risk.
More About Fibroids
Fibroids are not cancerous, but they are abnormal growths in your uterus. Typically, they develop in pre-menopausal women. They get larger thanks to estrogen stimulation, which means pregnancy can speed up fibroid growth. Women with fibroids can have normal pregnancies, but they need to be monitored carefully throughout. Some women with fibroids will have difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term.
Your doctors can detect fibroid warning signs during a routine pelvic exam; if your uterus feels unusual, especially if it seems larger than normal, you may have fibroids. At that point, your doctor may recommend a pelvic ultrasound to complete your diagnosis.
Fibroids can push on your bladder, making you pee much more or less than you normally do. Fibroids can also make your period flow much heavier than usual, and they can cause you to feel pressure and pain in your pelvic region. Many women with fibroids also experience back pain.
Who’s At Risk?
Women whose mom’s had fibroids, overweight women and African-American women all have elevated fibroid risks. Of course, it’s important to note that not all at-risk women will develop fibroids. In the same way, women with no known risk factors may end up dealing with fibroids.
Regardless of your history, it’s important to remember that fibroids don’t have to change your life. With today’s advancements in interventional radiology, fibroids can be treated without surgery. You DON’T need to have a hysterectomy to beat the pain. They key to treating fibroids is to discuss all your options with your doctor, and to make sure you choose the option that works best for your lifestyle and future family goals.
Last month, Dr. Eric Hardee travelled all the way to Lisbon, Portugal for CIRSE 2018 (the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Society of Europe’s annual conference.)
During his four days in Lisbon, Dr. Hardee joined 7000 other Interventional Radiologists at seminars and presentations highlighting major advancements in the field. At the conference, Dr. Hardee and his colleagues learned about major new advancements in patient care. He was introduced to new clinical case studies. And he had the chance to meet with other Uterine Fibroid Embolization specialists, including Dr. Jim Spies (pictured at right with Dr. Hardee.) Dr. Spies is considered one of the top UFE specialists in the United States, and it was an incredible opportunity for Dr. Hardee to meet with Dr. Spies and bring back new techniques and perspectives to our Houston Fibroids practice.
Although international travel is not always easy, Dr. Hardee left his family and his patients in order to remain at the forefront of alternative treatments for fibroids. Too many women diagnosed with fibroids believe that surgery—either myomectomies or hysterectomies—are their only treatment options.
As a provider of UFE, a minimally-invasive, outpatient fibroid treatment, Dr. Hardee knows that knowledge is power. For women with fibroids, knowing all their treatment options could preserve their fertility and spare them a long hospital stay and recovery period. For UFE providers like Dr. Hardee, continuing to work on treatment advancements will not only help his own patients, but it may just help spread the word about non-invasive fibroid treatments. And for a cause like that, crossing the Atlantic is well worth the trip (plus, it doesn’t hurt that Lisbon is awfully beautiful!)
Be sure to make any uterine fibroid treatment appointments that you may need before your insurance deductible resets on January 1st. Appointment slots are limited and filling up fast, so be sure to schedule as soon as possible!
Recently, a hospital in Delhi, India, shared a shocking story: they had just removed a nearly-nine pound tumor from a 47-year-old woman’s cervix! The tumor, which was originally determined to be a non-cancerous fibroid, was basically the size of a full-term newborn at the time of its removal!
According to reports, the woman first came to the hospital in 2009, seeking help for pain in the abdomen and abnormally heavy bleeding during her period. An ultrasound report at the time revealed that she had a small fibroid located inside her uterus. Unfortunately, the woman received no fibroid treatment at the time, and was sent home with a diagnosis and not much else.
In January of this year, the woman came back to the hospital, in even worse pain. A medical investigation found that the tumor had grown to its astounding 9 pound size. By this time, according to the hospital, the fibroid took up all the space from the depth of the pelvis until four inches below her breastbone. It was also beginning to adjoin to her liver.
Now faced with no choice but to operate, it took doctors almost three hours to remove the giant fibroid. During the surgery, both the fibroid and the woman’s uterus were removed, due to the suspicious nature of the tumor and fears of cancer.
Although the procedure was technically a success, and the woman was released from hospital six days after her operation, our team of fibroid specialists still views this story as having an unhappy ending.
It’s a well known fact that early intervention is best when it comes to fibroid treatment. Untreated tumors can and most likely will continue to grow, While few will reach the size and invasiveness of this woman’s fibroid, stories like hers are avoidable if women seek treatment for their tumors at the earliest point of diagnosis.
When it comes to fibroid symptoms like heavy bleeding, different doctors offer different treatments, but many opt for surgical removal or even hysterectomy (the complete removal of a woman’s uterus.) Since 1995, however, a different option has been available: like Dr. Fox and Dr. Hardee at Houston Fibroids, doctors can now treat fibroids with embolization, a process that cuts off blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink without invasive surgery.
While there have been debates about each option, a new study from Denmark has now proved that patients have better long-term outcomes after embolization!
Known as the EMMY study, this Dutch trial followed 156 women for 10 years after they were treated for uterine fibroids. All of the women had symptoms that made them eligible for hysterectomies. Of these women, 81 were treated with embolization and 75 had hysterectomies. Ten years after their procedures, researchers questioned the women on their quality of life and came up with very interesting findings: of the women who had embolization, only 28 needed a hysterectomy. The remaining 53 women who avoided hysterectomies reported similar health satisfaction to those 75 women who were given immediate hysterectomies. In short, the results prove that hysterectomies typically don’y need to be the first plan of attack in a fibroid treatment plan. As study leader Jim Reekers says, “Uterine artery embolization is a well-documented and good alternative to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids, on which all eligible patients should be counseled.”
Find Out More
As this study shows, hysterectomy is often avoidable when it comes to treating fibroids. Even in women who eventually will require a hysterectomy, embolization treatments can delay the need for major surgery and, of course, the onset of menopause that comes with a hysterectomy. When it comes to your health, knowledge is power. Before undergoing a life-altering hysterectomy procedure, or any kind of invasive fibroid treatment plan, schedule a consultation with our office team to discuss your eligibility for UFE, our highly effective, minimally invasive fibroid treatment option.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a new warning for women with fibroids: a common fibroid treatment may actually be spreading cancer cells in women’s bodies!
Many women with fibroids choose to have them removed by a morcellator, a machine that shreds the benign tumors inside the uterus. Some doctors like this treatment option because it is relatively non-invasive, leaves women with smaller scars, and results in almost no down time. Unfortunately, it has no become clear that this supposedly non-invasive treatment option could actually act as a silent killer!
While fibroids are non-cancerous tumors, the FDA reports that 1 in 350 women who are undergoing fibroid removal treatments are also suffering from undetected cancer! For those women who have cancer cells at the time of their treatment, the morcellator actually makes their cases worse in two ways: 1. By leaving behind the shredded, cancerous cells and 2. By spreading those cells around to a larger area of the uterus and, in some case, to other parts of the body entirely!
As any woman with fibroids can appreciate, minimally invasive treatments are ideal, but not at the expense of overall health! In our Houston Fibroids practice, Drs. Fox and Hardee offer a different kind of procedure: a truly non invasive treatment that doesn’t put other areas of your health at risk!
A Better Choice
Known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), treatment is administered through an artery in your left wrist. Using special X-ray equipment, a catheter (small tube) goes through the femoral artery and into the uterine artery, near your fibroid tumors. When it reaches the right spot, the doctors simply inject small spheres through the catheter and into the blood flow leading to the uterine fibroid tumors. Next, those small spheres (embolic materials) block the vessels around the fibroid, cutting off the blood and oxygen it needs to grow. This blockage makes fibroids shrink, and the spheres stay in your blood vessels permanently so the fibroids don’t grow back!
Not only is this procedure fairly quick and easy (you can sit up and walk almost immediately after treatment) it is also a much safer option. UFE patients avoid surgery, general anesthesia, and. most importantly, the risk of spreading dangerous cancer cells throughout their bodies!
While UFE is not for everyone, it is a great choice for those who qualify. If you are interested in learning more, please schedule an in office consultation with our team!
Dr. Hardee and one of our patients, Bridgette Davis, discussed the UFE procedure on Great Day Houston. Check out the video below!
We can’t thank our patients enough for voting Dr. Hardee and Dr. Fox the best vein doctors in Katy, Richmond, and Memorial.
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