Uterine leiomyomas (fibroids or myomas), benign tumours of the human uterus, are the single most common indication for hysterectomy. They are clinically apparent in up to 25% of women and cause significant morbidity, including prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure or pain, and, in rare cases, reproductive dysfunction. Thus, both the economic cost and the effect on quality of life are substantial. Surgery has been the mainstay of fibroid treatment, and various minimally invasive procedures have been developed in addition to hysterectomy and abdominal myomectomy. Formation of new leiomyomas after these conservative therapies remains a substantial problem. Although medications that manipulate concentrations of steroid hormones are effective, side-effects limit long-term use. A better approach may be manipulation of the steroid-hormone environment with specific hormone antagonists. There has been little evidence-based evaluation of therapy. New research into the basic biology of these neoplasms may add new treatment options for the future as the role of growth factors and genetic mutations in these tumours are better understood.
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