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New Brochure Provides Women with Treatment Choices for Noncancerous Uterine Conditions

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Press Release Date: January 26, 1998

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research today released a new brochure to help women better understand and make decisions about the kinds of treatment they can choose for noncancerous uterine conditions, such as fibroids or endometriosis. These conditions are common and affect 1 in 10 women ages 18 to 50 in the U.S. The brochure, entitled Common Uterine Conditions: Options for Treatment, is designed to supplement a woman's discussion with her clinician about various treatment options including hysterectomy.

Hysterectomy, the surgical removal of the uterus, has been a traditional treatment for these conditions, but many women may not be aware that more options are available to them. In 1995, more than 583,000 hysterectomies were performed in the United States. It is second to Cesarean-section as the operation most frequently performed on women. By age 65, more than 37 percent of all women in the United States will have had a hysterectomy. But hysterectomy is not the only option for treating noncancerous conditions and may not, in many cases, be the best. Some other options include medicine, hormone treatment, a more conservative type of surgery, changes in diet or exercise, or watchful waiting.

"For some women, a hysterectomy can significantly improve their quality of life," said HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala, "but for others, less invasive procedures may be successful and preferred, especially if the woman would like to become pregnant." The Secretary said that the brochure is a comprehensive resource for women who have been diagnosed with this type of medical condition.

The brochure describes some of the conditions that can create the need for a hysterectomy or other treatment. The most common conditions are uterine fibroids, which are solid masses of muscle that can cause pain and excessive bleeding, and endometriosis, or uterine tissue growing outside the uterus that also can cause extreme pain. Other conditions discussed in the brochure include uterine prolapse, ovarian cysts, excessive bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain.

The pros and cons of available treatments are listed for each condition, as well as a discussion of the various types of hysterectomy. Some newer treatments for fibroids are discussed, such as myomectomy or laser surgery which remove the fibroids but still allow a woman to become pregnant. Treatments for endometriosis include pain medicine, hormone therapies, and laser surgery which preserves the uterus but may make a woman infertile. Other sections of the brochure include answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary to help women become familiar with technical terms, and questions a woman can ask her doctor.

"It is essential that a woman find out as much as possible about her particular condition and possible treatment before making any decision," said AHCPR Administrator John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "Every woman's situation and concerns are unique, and this brochure is a tool to help women talk to their doctors and make a decision that is right for them." Dr. Eisenberg said the brochure also encourages women to get a second opinion and understand what to expect from any type of surgery.

Common Uterine Conditions: Options for Treatment is available free of charge from the AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse. Call toll-free 1-800-358-9295, or write to the Clearinghouse at P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907. The brochure also can be obtained through the newly redesigned and user-friendly AHCPR Web site at

For additional information, please contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (; Salina V. Prasad, (301) 427-1864 (

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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