Hysterectomy, the most common treatment for fibroids, is over-performed and often unnecessary. The NWHN recommends women explore less invasive and expensive treatments, including uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), a process that shrinks fibroids by cutting off their blood supply. A study that analyzed information from a national database on U.S. hospital stays between 2007–2013 found fibroid-related hysterectomies dropped by half during that time from more than 168,000 to below 78,200. But, hysterectomies remain very common and, of concern, the type of treatment a woman receives appears to be related to hospital characteristics. UFE is more likely to be performed at large medical centers, and less likely in smaller and rural hospitals, which accounted for just 8 and .4 percent of UFE procedures, respectively. This indicates that factors other than the woman’s choice drive treatment types. The researchers noted that “Every patient should be told about all of her options, so she can make an informed decision.”
Society of Interventional Radiology Annual Meeting, 2017
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently revised their guideline about age at which women should begin having annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer, from 40 to 50. It also recommended that women have mammograms every other year starting at age 50. It did so because evidence suggested that mammograms’ benefits do not outweigh the risks for women in their 40s. And, it’s more common for younger women to have a false positive result from the screenings, increasing their anxiety, costs, and radiation exposure from unnecessary tests. Yet, a recent survey of 2,000 doctors found that 81% continue to recommend that women begin having annual mammograms between age 40 and 44. Some do so because they’re concerned about missing a cancer diagnosis if mammograms are delayed; others are responding to their patients’ requests. And, some agree with organizations like the American College of Radiology and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which advise women aged 40 and older to continue having annual mammograms. The study results highlight how confusing the differing guidelines and recommendations are for doctors and patients alike.
JAMA Internal Medicine, April 2017
The NWHN’s always known women are fully capable of making their own medical decisions. Now, new research confirms women can also manage their own medical care around medication abortion. The study analyzed medical abortion outcomes reported by 1,000 women in Ireland and Northern Ireland who were less than 9 weeks pregnant. The women used abortion pills provided by Women on Web, which uses telemedicine to provide information and abortion pills to women with restricted access to care (www.womenonweb.org). Almost all (94.7%) reported successful termination without the need for surgical intervention. Complications and adverse events were rare, occurring at rates similar to in-clinic procedures. Women were “able to self identify the symptoms of potentially serious complications, and most report seeking medical attention when advised.” The study confirms that, with accurate information and support, women can use medical abortion safely and effectively on their own, without talking to a clinician. As the far-right works to restrict access and close clinics, women can be confident that self-inducing abortion with FDA-approved pills doesn’t put them at excessive risk of complications.
The BMJ, May 2017