What are the goals of the UC Fibroid Network? The UC Fibroid Network is an innovative collaboration among all five Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology within the University of California Medical Schools to address the unmet needs of women with fibroids. We aim to:
- Conduct high impact research of new and emerging fibroid treatments.
- Improve access to minimally invasive fibroid treatments among underserved women.
- Create accessible educational tools to help women make informed treatment decisions.
- Provide innovative clinical care through state-wide collaborations among fibroid specialists.
Why should fibroids be a major area of focus in women’s health? Uterine fibroids are extremely common noncancerous tumors of the uterus present in at least 25% of premenopausal women. Fibroids cause heavy bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, problems with bowel or bladder function, infertility, and poor pregnancy outcomes. These health problems can have a significant impact on a woman’s life taking a social, emotional, and economic toll.
Why are African-American women most burdened by fibroids? Fibroids are 2-3 times more common among black women than white women; 80% of black women have fibroids by age 50. Black women develop fibroids at a younger age and have larger tumors with more severe symptoms than white women. Black women are also more likely to undergo a hysterectomy to treat fibroids compared with other, less invasive treatments.
What is the research focus of the UC Fibroid Network? We aim to conduct clinically relevant studies that translate directly to improved care for women with fibroids.
One current focus is treatment with Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (MRgFUS) which uses high intensity ultrasound waves to destroy fibroids (see figure). In contrast to the prolonged recovery time of current fibroid surgeries, MRgFUS in an outpatient procedure in which women return to their normal activities within 1-2 days.
We are also conducting a study that aims to understand why African-American women undergo fewer minimally invasive treatments and more hysterectomies for fibroids than any other racial or ethnic group. Our goal is to assure that African-American women have an equal opportunity to undergo minimally invasive fibroid treatments and procedures.
How will clinical care improve through the UC Fibroid Network? Our goal is to pool the collective clinical and research expertise of our faculty to create a unique, collaborative clinical experience for our patients. We will have monthly teleconferences to discuss new and emerging treatments, challenging clinical cases, and proposed research innovations. With input from fibroid experts across the state of California, we believe we will have a national impact on fibroid practice as we establish consensus statements and protocols for the care of women with fibroids.
Who are the physicians within the UC Fibroid Network? The core physicians are a diverse group of UC faculty with expertise and experience in the clinical care of women with fibroids and a track record of successful research programs. At three of our sites the key faculty direct unique multi-disciplinary programs focused specifically on caring for women with fibroids. UC Fibroid Network physicians are located at the University of California Medical Schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Irvine, and Davis.