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The Economic Cost of Uterine Fibroids.

Article / Review by on January 31, 2012 – 7:00 pmNo Comments

The Economic Cost of Uterine Fibroids

Dr. James Segars, head of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Unit on Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, explains results of the study, “The Economic Annual Cost of Uterine Leiomyomata in the United States.”

Uterine leiomyomas

Fifty percent of women in the United States develop uterine fibroids during their reproductive years, making the condition the most prevalent reproductive disorder of women. Despite its prevalence, the condition remains poorly understood. One prominent feature of uterine fibroids is that the cells within the tumors produce a disordered and excessive extracellular matrix (ECM). In earlier work, we examined the characteristics of the cells that might lead to production of this excessive and fibrotic ECM and obtained evidence that mechanical signaling—a method of cell communication and activation—was altered in cells within a fibroid. During the past year, we examined surgical specimens and immortalized leiomyoma and myometrial cells and indeed found that mechanical signaling was attenuated in leiomyoma cells compared with myometrial cells. In addition, the visco-elastic properties of leiomyoma contributed substantially to the stiff, rubbery nature of the tumors. The findings raises the possibility that mechanical signaling may contribute to leiomyoma growth. Additionally, we completed a collaborative clinical trial with Bradford Wood and Aradhana Venkatesan of MRI–guided high-frequency ultrasound (HIFU) for the non-surgical treatment of uterine fibroids. In the coming year, we plan to continue our study of mechanical signaling in fibroid cells and to initiate a second study with HIFU for the non-surgical treatment of uterine fibroids.


About Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The NICHD, established by congress in 1962, conducts and supports research on topics related to the health of children, adults, families, and populations.  Some of these topics include:

  • Reducing infant deaths
  • Improving the health of women, men, and families
  • Understanding reproductive health and fertility/infertility
  • Learning about growth and development
  • Examining, preventing and treating problems of birth defects and intellectual and developmental disabilities; and
  • Enhancing well-being of persons through the lifespan with optimal rehabilitation research.

The NICHD was initially established to investigate the broad aspects of human development as a means of understanding developmental disabilities, including intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the events that occur during pregnancy.  Today, the Institute conducts and supports research on all stages of human development, from preconception to adulthood, to better understand the health of children, adults, families, and communities.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) logo


*  The above story is adapted from materials provided by National Institutes of Health (NIH)
** The National Institutes of Health (NIH) , a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s medical research agency—making important discoveries that improve health and save lives. The National Institutes of Health is made up of 27 different components called Institutes and Centers. Each has its own specific research agenda. All but three of these components receive their funding directly from Congress, and administrate their own budgets.

More about National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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