Uterine Fibroid Tumors
Uterine Fibroid Tumors are the most common form of tumor that occurs within the female reproductive system. In most cases the tumors are benign but in a very small percentage they can become cancerous.
The uterus is also sometimes referred to as the womb and it makes up part of the female reproductive system. It is located in the lower part of the abdomen and is very close to the ovaries. Unfertilized eggs are stored in the ovaries where they wait to be released into the fallopian tubes. When this process occurs it is called ovulation and the egg will travel down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. If the egg was fertilized during this journey then it will become implanted into the uterus where it will grow for the next 9 months. Uterine fibroid tumors develop on the muscle tissues of the uterus. Healthy uterine tissue will normally be smooth. Uterine fibroid tumors are considered common as between 20 and 25 percent of women are thought to develop the condition. Many of these women, however may never know that they have uterine fibroid tumors as most of the time they do not produce any symptoms or further health problems. If they do cause trouble or symptoms for the woman then it is possible to have them removed. The most commonly used name for the condition is uterine fibroid tumors but they can also be called leiomyomas, fibromyomas and myomas.
Can the condition be cancerous?
Uterine fibroid tumors begin to develop as small benign lumps and in the majority of cases will remain benign. However, in just under 1 percent of cases the growth will become malignant leading to uterine cancer. In these rare cases, the tumor often becomes malignant during the period of time that the woman is going through the menopause. Most uterine fibroid tumors do not pose any threat to the individuals life but some can lead to additional health problems. The fibroid always begins in a single uterine muscle cell but can vary dramatically in size. Some are less than a quarter of an inch long whilst others can reach 10 inches long. It is fairly common for uterine fibroid tumors to reach 6 inches in length.
Different kinds of tumor
Uterine fibroid tumors can be separated into categories according to there location. Those that grow on the inside of the womb are known as submucosal. Those that develop on the uterus outer wall are called suberosal. If they develop in the muscles of the uterus wall then they are called intramural and when they are attached via stems to the uterus they are called pedunculated uterine fibroid tumors.
Causes and complications
Although the direct cause of uterine tumors remains unknown, it is thought that hormones are linked to it. Studies have show that the tumors develop and grow at a faster rate during the years that the woman is reproductive and therefore her estrogen levels are the highest. After the woman has gone through the menopause the tumors tend to shrink in size. Depending on the size and exact location of the tumor it may interfere during pregnancy causing further problems or complications including miscarriage or premature labor.