Friday, March 07, 2008

Fibroids and cancer (by Suzie)

         My previous post may have scared some women into wondering about the symptoms of gynecologic sarcoma.
         Let me highlight one: fibroids. Doctors, and the media, will tell you that fibroids don’t turn into cancer. But they may not tell you: Although sarcoma is very rare, when women do have it, the malignant tumors often get mistaken for benign fibroids.
         As a patient and volunteer, I’ve talked to many women with gyn sarcoma. In many cases, if not most, they have surgery for fibroids, only to get diagnosed with this rare and aggressive cancer. This happens so often that doctors call it the “whoops” procedure.
          I don’t want to worry women unduly. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to keep quiet when I know that diagnosing and removing sarcoma early can save a woman’s life.
          This doesn't have to be an either/or situation in which we turn women into hypochondriacs or else we accept that we'll lose a few to cancer. Another option is for science to come up with a better way of telling a fibroid from a cancer, before surgery. Doctors are working on this. (While they're working on it, let's hope they also discover the cause and cure.)