Potential Treatments for Uterine Fibroids Include Mifepristone

A recent New York Times article highlighted alternative treatments to hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus) for the treatment of uterine fibroids, including less invasive surgical procedures. While encouraged by the Times exposure of the need for alternative treatments, the Feminist Majority expressed concern that the article did not include the potential medical option of mifepristone, also known as RU 486 or the “abortion pill.” Clinical trials have indicated the mifepristone has the potential to easily and effectively treat uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous growths that can cause often debilitating side effects such as pain and heavy bleeding, as well as pregnancy complications and infertility, without the use of surgery. Uterine fibroids are common for women in their 30s and 40s, particularly African American women Ñ 30 to 70 percent of all women are estimated to have uterine fibroids, according to The New York Times. Hysterectomy has been the most common treatment for uterine fibroids, in which surgeons remove both the fibroids and the entire uterus. However, other treatments that leave the uterus intact are available but not widely known or researched, including myomectomy, which surgically removes the fibroids, and uterine artery embolization, which blocks blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink. A bill introduced in Congress this past spring, by Senators Jean Carnahan (D-MO), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), seeks to increase funding for research on uterine fibroids and public education about treatment options to $10 million. Currently, funding at the National Institutes of Health for fibroids and endometriosis is only $3 million, while research into urinary tract infections is almost $15 million, according to the Times. The Feminist Majority Foundation has been leading a campaign to increase clinical trials and research into the potential uses of mifepristone to treat not only fibroids and endometriosis, but also as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other serious illnesses. However, efforts by anti-abortion extremists, including a recent petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking for a review of FDA approval for the drug, have severely limited access for women in the US to a potentially lifesaving drug. TAKE ACTION Protect Safe and Early Medical Abortion and Increase Funding for Mifepristone Research


New York Times 8/27/02; Feminist Daily News Wire, 4/10/02, 8/23/02

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