Learning about Uterine Fibroids
- Sharon Stone recently shared that she needs a “large fibroid tumor” removed after first suffering from “another misdiagnosis and incorrect procedure.” It’s unclear if she’s already undergone the procedure, but she’s sharing her story to encourage women getting second opinions.
- “Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that are extremely common, with up to 80% of women having a fibroid in their lifetime,” says one of our experts.
- Sadly, we’ve heard many stories of women’s concerns being dismissed by doctors. That’s why being your own advocate can be key to getting a correct diagnosis and obtaining the best treatment possible while dealing with a diagnosis.
- One cancer survivor told SurvivorNet she recommends asking many questions, so doctors “earn that copay.”
In a recent post to her social media shared by PEOPLE, Stone explained that her “large fibroid tumor” was misdiagnosed by medical professionals.Read More
In an effort to help others, Stone made sure to emphasize the lesson she learned from her harrowing experience.
“Ladies in particular: Don’t get blown off ❣️GET A SECOND OPINION ❣️ It can save your life 🙏🏻💥,” she wrote. “I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks for full recovery. Thx for your care. It’s all good 💪🏻 🙏🏻.”
It’s unclear if Stone has already undergone the procedure or will be soon, but SurvivorNet is wishing her a speedy recovery.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are very common, but not many people actually know about them. So, to help clarify, SurvivorNet spoke with Dr. Kelly N. Wright a specialist in the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Center at Cedars-Sinai.
“Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that are extremely common, with up to 80% of women having a fibroid in their lifetime,” Dr. Wright previously told SurvivorNet. “Many fibroids are small and cause no symptoms, and therefore can be monitored over time.
“We expect fibroids to shrink by about 30% at the time of menopause, and after menopause, they shouldn’t grow any further or cause new symptoms.”
Sometime, however, they do causes symptoms that can interfere with a woman’s quality of life.
“When fibroids do cause symptoms, it can be either with a women’s period (heavier or irregular bleeding or both), or by causing ‘bulk’ symptoms, which are symptoms caused by the compression of the fibroid onto other organs,” Dr. Wright explained. “Bulk symptoms can include a protrusion in the belly, urinating frequently, or sometimes pelvic pain.
“If a fibroid is causing these symptoms, then it should be evaluated by a physician, and a treatment plan should be created. Fibroids that interfere with one’s quality of life should not be ignored.”
It’s important to note that while fibroids themselves aren’t cancerous, there is a rare type of cancer that can mimic the look of these tumors.
“Though fibroids are extremely common, some women are at risk for having a much less common type of cancer that can look like fibroids called leiomyosarcoma,” Dr. Wright said. “Women who have new fibroid tumors grow after menopause, take tamoxifen (a medication for breast cancer), or have a history of kidney cancer may be at a higher risk for leiomyosarcoma.
“Any concern for cancer in a fibroid should be fully evaluated and may require a hysterectomy for treatment.”
Additionally, uterine fibroids do not increase the risk for uterine cancer, and they do not have a known cause.
Advocating for Your Health like Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone’s story is, sadly, not the first of its kind. In fact, we’ve heard many women talk about how their health concerns were not taken seriously prior to a very serious diagnosis.
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, April Knowles explained how she became a breast cancer advocate after her doctor dismissed the lump in her breast as a side effect of her menstrual period. Unfortunately, that dismissal was a mistake.
Knowles was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 39. She said the experience taught her the importance of listening to her body and speaking up when something doesn’t feel right.
“I wanted my doctor to like me,” she said. “I think women, especially young women, are really used to being dismissed by their doctors.”
Jenny Saldana is another woman who’s spoken up about advocating for yourself. She says she was told “you can’t keep coming back here taking up resources for women that really need them” when she was trying to get her breast cancer diagnosis.
“The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” she said as advice for others.
Evelyn Reyes-Beato feels similarly. As a Latina – like Saldana – and a colon cancer survivor, she urges people to “get knowledge” so they won’t feel intimated by their doctors. She wants to remind others that they have a right to ask questions and make physicians “earn that copay.”
Dr. Zuri Murrell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet that healthcare guidelines are meant to do the right thing for the largest number of people while using the fewest resources.
“The truth is you have to be in tune with your body, and you realize that you are not the statistic,” he said.
Dr. Murrell says not every patient will “fit into” the mold, so it’s important to “educate yourself and be your own health care advocate.”
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Murrell said. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional – that’s what I do for all of my patients.”