Myomas: the answers to 6 common questions

What are they?
Myomas are growths of muscle tissue that form in the uterine cavity. They can vary in size but are usually not larger than 4 or 5 cm. They are the most common benign tumour in the female genital system and affect an estimated one in five women of childbearing age.

Why do they appear?
They are caused by the proliferation of cells in the uterine wall. While the cause is still unknown, they are associated with the production of oestrogen, which promotes their growth.

How do they differ from a cyst or polyp?
Cysts are found in the ovaries and fibroids and polyps in the uterus. Usually, polyps are also benign, but smaller than myomas.

How are they detected?
They can be detected during routine ultrasound examinations performed at gynaecological check-ups.

Can they cause cancer?
Most are benign and there is only a very small chance that a diagnosed myoma will become malignant.

Do they have to be removed?
Only when they are very large, cause discomfort or grow a lot in a small space of time. There are drugs to help control the bleeding, but not the growth. It is important to have them monitored regularly.