A myoma is a type of mesenchymal tumor found mainly in loose connective tissues in the body. There are two main types – leiomyoma and rhabdomyomas. Leimyoma can be found in the skin or gut, but the most common type is a uterine fibroid. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that form in the uterus. Rhabdomyomas are the more rare of the two types. These form in muscles, occur in childhood and eventually become malignant. (see also: Uterine Cancer)
Myoma Signs & Symptoms
Approximately 25% of myomas have no symptoms and do not need to be treated. For those that will require treatment, symptoms can include bleeding between menstrual periods, long periods with heavy bleeding, the need to urinate frequently, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen. In pregnant women, myomas can become enlarged due to increased blood flow and hormones, but these usually reduce in size once the baby has been born.
One in five women of childbearing age will develop myomas in the form of uterine fibroids, but are rarely seen in women under the age of 20. A pelvic exam, ultrasound, pelvic MRI, or a biopsy of the uterine lining tissue can diagnose them. They are classified by their location in the uterus:
- Myometrial – in the muscle wall of the uterus
- Submucosal – under the surface of the uterine lining
- Subserosal – under the outside covering of the uterus
- Pendunculated – occurs on a stalk on the outside of the uterus or inside the cavity of the uterus
While the cause is unknown, they have been linked to estrogen. Myomas can be microscopic or they can grow to be very large. In rare cases they can cause infertility. It is important to let your doctor know if you are pregnant or if you plan to have children in the future.
Treatment of myomas depends on the age of the patient, the type of myoma, and the severity, among other factors. If the patient is pregnant, or wishes to become pregnant in the future, this is an important factor to consider when determining a treatment plan for myomas. Birth control pills and IUDs (intrauterine devices) can be useful in regulating periods, reducing heavy bleeding, and decreasing pain associated with the presence of myomas. Some women may not need any treatment except to see their doctor to monitor the growth of the fibroids. Surgical treatments include myomectomy and hysterectomy.
The prognosis for myoma depends on the type and severity of the tumors. This spans the gamut from no treatment at all to the other end of the spectrum where surgery may be required.