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Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow from the muscular layer of the uterus. They form a separate mass of dense tissue that distorts the normally smooth and uniform uterine wall. A single fibroid may be present or a uterus may contain several tumors. Fibroids range in size from barely visible up to several inches in diameter.

Over time, fibroids may collect deposits of calcium and develop a gritty texture. The exact cause of this calcification is unknown, but it may be related to the degeneration of tissue that happens when the tumor outgrows its blood supply. Calcified fibroids may have a distinct appearance on an ultrasound, but they are not treated differently from other fibroids.

Fibroids occur in at least 25% of women. They usually cause no symptoms and require no treatment. If symptoms such as pelvic pain and excessive menstrual bleeding occur, fibroids are readily treated. Several options, including both medical and surgical treatments, are available. The best approach is specific to the particular woman's needs.

Copyright 6/5/2007 Harvard University. All rights reserved. HHP/HMS content licensing handled by Belvoir Media Group.

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