SIR Survey Shows Public Awareness Shortcomings for UFE as Treatment Option for Uterine Fibroids

 

August 29, 2017—The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) announced results of a poll indicating that women diagnosed with uterine fibroids in the United States are largely unaware of uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) as a treatment that preserves the uterus and allows women to get back to their lives sooner than with surgical options. The poll shows that 44% of women say they have never heard of the less invasive treatment option. The data are included in SIR's report, The Fibroid Fix: What Women Need to Know.

To better understand awareness of uterine fibroids and women’s knowledge of fibroid treatment options, SIR commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online survey in June 2017 that included 1,176 women 18 years of age or older in the United States. The society advised that the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll panel; therefore, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

According to SIR, the results demonstrated a lack of knowledge that suggests women with fibroids are not being informed by their physicians about all treatment options for this condition, which affects the majority of women in the United States.

The survey found a majority of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids noted that having their doctor discuss all options with them is the most important factor for selecting a treatment. However, 46% of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids who have heard of UFE did not first learn about the treatment from their obstetrician/gynecologist.

The survey also found:

  • 57% of respondents do not think they are at risk of developing uterine fibroids.
  • 62% of respondents have never heard of UFE.
  • 44% of women diagnosed with uterine fibroids have never heard of the treatment.
  • 73% of women who have heard of UFE did not learn of it first from their obstetrician/gynecologist, the frontline provider of fibroid treatment. These women first learned about the treatment from other sources, including friends or family (32%), their own research (9%), or particularly for younger women, from advertising (23% for all women 18 years of age or older and 38% for women 18–34 years of age).
  • 20% think hysterectomy is the only treatment for fibroids, and of those diagnosed with fibroids, 11% still think hysterectomy is the only treatment option.

In the society's announcement, SIR Past-President James Spies, MD, commented, “Misperceptions about uterine fibroids and the treatments available often lead women to undergo invasive and potentially unnecessary surgery for their fibroids, despite more than 20 years of clinical use supporting UFE. It is a disservice to women to not provide all the information needed for an informed decision.” Dr. Spies served as an adviser for the report and is an internationally recognized expert on UFE who has made valuable contributions to primary and clinical research assessing outcomes related to various fibroid therapies.

Janice Newsome, MD, a physician adviser to the report, added, “It is remarkable that 62% of women are unaware of UFE and that one in five women (20%) believe the only treatment is hysterectomy. Uterine preservation should be an important goal of therapy for fibroids, yet many women seem unaware of safe and effective treatment options apart from hysterectomy.”

SIR President Suresh Vedantham, MD, concluded, “Physicians need to ensure that women are presented every option for treatment so that patients can make the decision that is right for them. UFE is an example of an image-guided therapy that has improved the standard of care and quality of life for many women, allowing a minimally invasive treatment with a shorter recovery time, less pain, and risk of complications than traditional surgeries for uterine fibroids.”

 

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