Fillers POEM

Uterine fibroids are common in middle aged women

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 03 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:f

Question How common are uterine fibroids in middle aged women?

Synopsis No previous study conducted in the United States has screened randomly selected women for uterine fibroids. In this cross sectional study 1364 women aged 35 to 49 who were members of a prepaid health plan were randomly selected for screening. The population of the health plan was urban, approximately 50% black, and had a broad socioeconomic base. Since fibroids diminish after menopause the authors postulated that the cumulative incidence of fibroids of a woman in her late 40s would approach her lifetime risk of developing fibroids. Presence of fibroids was determined by ultrasound for premenopausal women with an intact uterus, by medical records when available for patients who had undergone hysterectomy, and otherwise by self report. Hysterectomy with a diagnosis of fibroids was more common in black women (12%) than white women (5%). The cumulative incidence of fibroids was estimated to be higher than 80% for black women and almost 70% for white women. Women of other ethnic groups were not studied. Fibroids were present on ultrasonography in 51% of women without a previous diagnosis of fibroids.

Bottom line If you look for uterine fibroids by ultrasound in women in their late 30s and 40s you will find them most of the time.

Level of evidence 1b (see Independent blind comparison of an appropriate spectrum of consecutive patients, all of whom had undergone both the diagnostic test and the reference standard.


  • ©infoPOEMs 1992–2003 * Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters. See editorial (BMJ 2002;325:983)


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