Women largely unaware of uterine fibroid embolization


American women are largely unaware of uterine fibroid embolization according to results from a new nationwide poll released by the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR). The data included in the report, “The fibroid fix: What women need to know”, show that 44% of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids say they have never heard of the less invasive treatment option.

The online survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the SIR in June 2017 among 1,176 US women ages 18+ to better understand awareness of uterine fibroids and women’s knowledge of fibroid treatment options. These results uncover a lack of knowledge that suggests women with fibroids are not being informed by their physicians about all treatment options for this condition, which affects the majority of US women. The survey found a majority of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids note that having their doctor discuss all options with them is the most important factor for selecting a treatment. However, 46% of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids who have heard of UFE did not first learn about the treatment from their obstetrician-gynaecologist.

“Misperceptions about uterine fibroids and the treatments available often lead women to undergo invasive and potentially unnecessary surgery for their fibroids, despite more than 20 years of clinical use supporting uterine fibroid embolization,” said James Spies, a professor of radiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington and an adviser for the report. Spies, a past president of the SIR, is an internationally recognised expert on UFE who has made valuable contributions to primary and clinical research assessing outcomes related to various fibroid therapies. “It is a disservice to women to not provide all the information needed for an informed decision,” he said.

The survey also found:

  • More than half of US women (57%) do not think they are at risk of developing uterine fibroids.
  • A majority of women (62%) have never heard of UFE, with 44% of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids reporting that they have never heard of the treatment.
  • Among women who have heard of UFE, the majority (73%) did not first learn of it from their obstetrician-gynaecologist, the frontline provider of fibroid treatment. These women first learned about the treatment from other sources, including friends or family (32%), their own research (9%) or, particularly for younger women, from advertising (23% for all women 18+ and 38% for women 18–34).
  • One-fifth of women (20%) think hysterectomy is the only treatment for fibroids, and, of those diagnosed with fibroids, 11%still think hysterectomy is the only treatment option.

“It is remarkable that 62% of women are unaware of UFE and that one in five women (20%) believe the only treatment is hysterectomy,” said Janice Newsome, a physician adviser to the report and associate division director of interventional radiology and image-guided medicine at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. “Uterine preservation should be an important goal of therapy for fibroids. Yet many women seem unaware of safe and effective treatment options apart from hysterectomy.”

“Physicians need to ensure that women are presented every option for treatment so that patients can make the decision that is right for them,” said Suresh Vedantham, president of the SIR and professor of Radiology and Surgery at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University in St Louis. “UFE is an example of an image-guided therapy that has improved the standard of care and quality of life for many women, allowing a minimally invasive treatment with a shorter recovery time, less pain and risk of complications than traditional surgeries for uterine fibroids.”


The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the SIR between 23 and 27 June 2017 among 1,176 US women ages 18+. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Addition to article on 4 September 2017:

Jim A Reekers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a past president of CIRSE and principal investigator on the EMMY trial, tells Interventional News: “The title of this piece should really be women are kept unaware of uterine fibroid embolization. We of the EMMY trial made a conscious decision to publish all our research in the top international gynaecology journals, including the 10-year follow-up results, which showed similar outcomes for uterine fibroid embolization and surgery. All gynaecologists must know about these data, but they appear to be not emphasised to patients. This might relate to financial protection of practice. It seems inexplicable that within Medicare and Medicaid, the number of uterine fibroid embolization procedures is at least four times higher than outside of this coverage. The number of hysterectomies is also very low in this scenario. While there are not many advantages associated with having a low income, access to the most patient-friendly and cheapest treatment for uterine fibroids, ie embolization, maybe one of them.”


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