Do fibroids increase cancer risk?
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Fibroids are also known as uterine leiomyomas. In medical terms, these are benign tumours primarily located in the muscle tissue of the uterus. They are among the most common noncancerous growths that affect women during their reproductive years. Despite their common occurrence, many women worry about the possibility of fibroids turning cancerous.
Fibroids are inherently benign; most remain so throughout your life. The risk of a fibroid developing into cancer, specifically leiomyosarcoma, is rare. Studies show that this transformation occurs in less than 0.1% of cases. This rarity underscores that although fibroids impact your health and quality of life, their possibility of becoming malignant is minimal.
In the essence of the UK healthcare system, managing and monitoring fibroids is based on evidence-based practices. Healthcare providers focus on minimising risk and maximising patient well-being by emphasising regular monitoring and evaluation. It ensures monitoring of the changes in the fibroid’s number, size or symptoms, allowing for timely intervention if necessary.
Understanding the cancer risk linked with fibroids entails not only accepting their low possibility of turning malignant but also recognising the comprehensive care system in which fibroids are treated. For women in the UK, this means having timely access to advanced diagnostic tools, various treatment options, and the support of specialists who can provide personalised care.
As we explore the specifics of diagnosing, monitoring, and the impact of lifestyle factors on fibroids and associated risks, it becomes evident that understanding and managing fibroids involves informed decision-making and supportive care. This objective addresses the fibroids and eases concerns about their impact on cancer risk.

What is the Risk of Fibroids Turning Cancerous?

Patients often wonder about the likelihood of fibroids transforming into cancer. Uterine fibroids are benign tumours that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They are common, affecting many women during their reproductive years. Fortunately, the chance of fibroids becoming cancerous is extremely rare, which offers comfort to many women.
Scientific research and clinical evidence consistently demonstrate that the risk of fibroids turning malignant is exceedingly low. Studies indicate the occurrence of leiomyosarcoma in patients with fibroids is less than 0.1%. This statistic is reassuring for both patients and healthcare providers, emphasising that the focus should be on managing and treating fibroids without excessive concern about cancer.
In the United Kingdom, fibroid management strategies reflect this understanding, ensuring patients are well-informed about the risks. Healthcare professionals stress that while regular monitoring and check-ups are necessary for effective fibroid management, the direct link between fibroids and increased cancer risk is minimal. This approach is grounded in extensive clinical experience and ongoing research into uterine fibroids.
For patients, understanding these odds is crucial as it can alleviate anxiety and facilitate discussions about treatment options. The emphasis is on personalised care, recognising that each woman’s experience with fibroids is unique. Healthcare providers aim to address symptoms and impact while reassuring patients about the low risk of cancer development by tailoring treatment plans to individual needs.
This insight into the risk of fibroids turning cancerous underscores a vital message: while vigilance and regular medical consultations are quintessential, the fear of cancer should not overshadow fibroid management. Instead, the focus is on enhancing quality of life, relieving symptoms, and making informed choices, enabling women to navigate their health journey with confidence and support.

How do doctors in London detect and monitor fibroids for cancer risk?

In the United Kingdom, healthcare professionals use a combination of clinical assessments and advanced diagnostic methods to detect and monitor fibroids to evaluate any cancer risk. This comprehensive approach aims to achieve accurate diagnosis, track the size and growth of fibroids, and watch for any indicators of rare malignant transformation.
The process of detecting fibroids begins with a medical history review, focussing on any notable symptoms such as pelvic pain, abdominal bloating, or unusual uterine bleeding reported by the patient, especially over a short period like three months. Subsequently, a gynaecologist in London conducts a detailed pelvic examination to feel for any irregularities in the uterus that might indicate the presence of fibroids. If fibroids are suspected, doctors recommend further diagnostic tests to confirm their existence, understand their characteristics, and establish an appropriate management strategy.

Ultrasound Scanning

Healthcare providers commonly use ultrasound scans to visualise fibroids, a non-invasive technique that employs sound waves to generate images of the uterus. This method enables providers to observe and measure fibroids effectively. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers both abdominal and transvaginal ultrasound scans, with the latter providing a more detailed view of the uterus, making it particularly useful for identifying fibroids.

MRI Scanning

For a more detailed assessment, especially in cases where fibroids are challenging to characterise using ultrasound alone, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans can be employed. MRI scans provide detailed images of the uterus and pelvic area, aiding in determining the number, size, and location of fibroids. Also, they help in distinguishing fibroids from other malignant growths.

Regular Monitoring

After diagnosing fibroids, regular monitoring is crucial, especially for women experiencing symptoms or growing fibroids. The frequency and nature of monitoring depend on individual cases, including fibroid size, symptoms, and any changes over time. Monitoring typically involves repeat ultrasound scans and clinical evaluations to assess fibroid growth and its impact on health and quality of life.

Assessing Cancer Risk

Although the risk of fibroids becoming cancerous is extremely low, healthcare providers remain vigilant. Any rapid fibroid growth, particularly postmenopause, may require further investigation to rule out sarcoma, a rare cancer type that can initially resemble fast-growing fibroids. In such cases, private gynaecologists in London recommend additional diagnostic tests, including biopsy or surgical removal with histopathological examination of tissue.

Latest Fibroid Treatments in the UK and Their Impact on Cancer Risk

In the UK, doctors take a multifaceted approach to fibroid treatment, offering a range of options from conservative management to advanced surgical interventions. The treatment is highly personalised, considering factors such as fibroid size and location, symptom severity, desire for future fertility, and overall health. The primary goal of fibroid treatment is to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. However, it’s important to note that since fibroids are noncancerous, treatments focus on managing the condition rather than reducing cancer risk.


For mild symptoms, doctors often prescribe medication as the initial treatment:

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists: These drugs temporarily shrink fibroids by blocking oestrogen and progesterone production, inducing a menopause-like state. Their use is generally short-term to reduce fibroid size and blood loss before surgery.
  • Tranexamic acid: This medication helps reduce heavy menstrual bleeding associated with fibroids.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Although NSAIDs don’t shrink fibroids, they can provide relief from fibroid-related pain.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Advancements in medical technology have introduced minimally invasive procedures that offer effective treatment with quicker recovery times compared to traditional surgery:

  • Uterine Artery Embolisation (UAE): A radiological procedure that cuts off blood supply to fibroids, causing them to shrink and die. UAE is suitable for women who prefer to avoid surgery or are not medically fit for it.
  • Myomectomy: This surgical procedure removes fibroids while preserving the uterus, making it ideal for women seeking to maintain fertility.

Surgical Options

For large fibroids, severe symptoms, or when other treatments fail, more invasive surgery may be necessary, like the Hysterectomy. This surgery involves the removal of the uterus, and it is a definitive treatment for fibroids. It is the only option when other options have been exhausted or if the fibroids are prominent and fertility preservation is not a concern.
Discuss all available fibroid treatment options with a healthcare provider who can provide guidance based on the latest research and clinical guidelines. The comprehensive approach to fibroid treatment in London ensures that women get tailored options that suit their needs and circumstances.
Regarding cancer risk reduction, it’s essential to understand fibroids themselves are benign, and treatments can lower cancer risk. However, regular monitoring and appropriate fibroid treatment contribute to overall uterine health, offering reassurance to women concerned about cancer risks.

My Final Take

In women’s health, it’s crucial to grasp the complexities of managing fibroids, especially in gauging their potential to become cancerous. The progress made in gynaecological scanning and diagnostics has improved our capacity to assess, monitor and treat fibroids, providing women with reassurance and personalised treatment choices. The state-of-the-art technologies, with a profound comprehension of the factors affecting fibroid growth and symptoms, support healthcare providers in delivering proactive and tailored care to meet each patient’s specific needs.

Vivek Nama
Vivek Nama

I'm a Consultant Gynaecologist and Lead Gyn Oncologist at Croydon University Hospital. I pride myself on delivering compassionate and cost-effective care to all my patients. Patient satisfaction and experience are quintessential pillars of all my predominant decisions. With over 18 years of experience in gynaecology and gynaecological oncology, I strive to offer an evidence-based approach to my practice. It has been made effortless through my research activities and the many national and international presentations. If you are concerned about your gynaecological condition, I will be able to help you.