Among the millions of women who suffer from uterine fibroids, many agonize unnecessarily because they’re looking for an alternative to hysterectomy.
During this year’s Donald F. Richardson Memorial Lecture, two experts on the subject will debate the available alternatives to hysterectomy during Will Surgery Soon Be Obsolete for Women with Uterine Fibroids? The session will take place from 2:10 – 3 pm on Friday in Ballroom D at the Austin Convention Center.
Erica Marsh, MD, MSCI, associate professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, said she hopes this session brings needed attention to the issue of uterine fibroids.
“Uterine fibroids have long been considered the bread and butter of the ob-gyn profession, but because we see them so often, we can sometimes not be as proactive about learning new approaches to treatment and making sure patients have access to novel therapy,” Dr. Marsh said. “This session will not only be a good opportunity to highlight the latest treatment options, but also to remind physicians just how many millions of women are affected by uterine fibroids and how they affect quality of life.”
During the debate, Dr. Marsh will highlight various non-surgical treatment options that may be preferable for some patients.
“A patient’s goals and objectives for treatment should always help guide and direct clinical decision making,” Dr. Marsh said. “Physicians should consider a patient’s desires—including wanting to get pregnant or to retain her uterus independent of pregnancy—when considering treatment options. When managing uterine fibroids, we must consider the patient’s voice, which too often goes unheard.”
In contrast to Dr. Marsh, Elizabeth A. Stewart, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and chair of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, will shine the spotlight on surgical treatment options, which continue to play an integral role in the treatment of uterine fibroids.
“A century ago, hysterectomy was the only widely available option for women with uterine fibroids, but today we have many minimally invasive procedures that are very effective and have good recovery profiles,” Dr. Stewart said. “While there are some exciting non-surgical options coming down the pipeline, I think surgery will be a mainstay of our treatment for the foreseeable future.”
However, Dr. Stewart said surgical alternatives to hysterectomy appear to be under-used, which makes this session an important opportunity to highlight those alternatives.
“If you look at the data across the United States, 75 percent of fibroid surgeries are hysterectomies,” she said. “While there’s a place for hysterectomy, there are still many more women that can have an effective surgical alternative to hysterectomy. We hope to raise awareness among physicians about these alternatives.”
In addition, Dr. Stewart said the session would help physicians understand the pros and cons of the available procedures so they can improve their clinical decision-making process when choosing an approach for each patient.
“I think one of the reasons you still see so many hysterectomies is that it’s a well-known, effective option,” she said. “One size fits all with hysterectomy. But I think with the increasing evidence that there are long-term risks to hysterectomy, we need to be supporting our patients in making the decisions not only for the short-term, but also for the long-term.”