How Much are Your Fibroids Costing You?

If you suffer from symptoms of fibroids, you are likely paying thousands of dollars more per year for health care than healthy women your age.1

The high financial cost of uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that grow within the uterus and affect up to 70 percent of women of childbearing age,2 was highlighted by a study lead by Ahmed M. Soliman, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Health Economics and Outcomes Research at AbbVie, Inc.

This study is especially relevant thanks to the prevalence of uterine fibroids, whose symptoms can range from heavy bleeding during a period to pain during sex and even urinary problems.1 With almost half of all women who suffer from fibroids seeking treatment, gaining an understanding of the financial costs of symptoms of fibroids and their treatment is critical.

Dr. Soliman and his team analyzed studies from around the world that took place between 2000 and 2013.1 They broke costs down into direct costs (those associated with the direct care of the patient) and indirect costs (such as loss of wages due to seeking treatment).

What the study found was a large gap between sufferers of symptoms of fibroids and women who did not have fibroids. For example, direct costs for one year after a woman was diagnosed with uterine fibroids averaged $9,000. Indirect costs for the same time periods were at least $2,400 and could be as high as $15,500. And indirect and direct costs could run patients up to $25,000 per year. Overall, women suffering from the symptoms of fibroids spent $2,200 to $16,000 more per year than healthy women of the same age!1

Clearly, uterine fibroids carry a heavy financial burden for patients, health care systems, and society as a whole. Across the nation, direct costs for uterine fibroids amount to billions of dollars, to the tune of $3.5 to $10.3 billion, each year.1

The money spent on treating uterine fibroids can go toward any one of a number of procedures. The most drastic of these treatments is a hysterectomy, wherein the uterus is removed. A less drastic surgical option is myomectomy, which removes only the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact.

A less invasive option with a high success rate is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). During this procedure, an interventional radiologist guides a catheter through a small incision in the patient's wrist or groin to reach the arteries feeding blood to the fibroid. Small particles called embolics are then released into the arteries in order to block the blood flow to the fibroid, while leaving the blood flow to the rest of the uterus untouched. When the blood flow is reduced, the patient's symptoms begin to subside.

Another option for the treatment of fibroids is endometrial ablation. During this procedure, the lining of the uterus is destroyed in order to reduce the heavy bleeding associated with fibroids. Other treatments included in the study's consideration of direct costs include medications to control symptoms of fibroids.

How Much Are You Spending Each Month to Deal With the Fibroid Symptoms?

The cost of the treatment of fibroids may also include the cost of products used to control the heavy monthly bleeding that often accompanies uterine fibroids. The cost of supplies that deal with heavy bleeding can be very high. Many patients with adenomyosis or fibroids have to use using a multiple tampons, pads and even an adult diaper. And they often need to change all of those every hour in order to control the bleeding.

Uterine fibroids not only lead to uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms, they can also cause great stress in a relationship. Severe fibroid symptoms can potentially take over a woman's life. And the financial burden can make the situation even worse. The researchers concluded that although the results of the studies shed light on the cost of fibroids, more studies are needed to understand the true financial impact of this disease.1

REFERENCES

  1. Soliman, A. M., Yang, H., Du, E. X., et al. (2015). The direct and indirect costs of uterine fibroid tumors: A systematic review of the literature between 2000 and 2013. Am J Obstet Gynecol, Aug;213(2):141-160.
  2. Baird, D. D., Dunson, D. B., Hill, M. C., et al. (2003). High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. Am J Obstet Gynecol, Jan;188(1):100-107.