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Figuring Out Fibroids

Studies examine a common, yet mysterious, tumor

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1:00pm, September 7, 2004

There was a lot that Cynthia Morton didn't know about uterine fibroids when she began studying them in 1989. She didn't know, for instance, that she already had or would soon develop one. That revelation came during her pregnancy in 1991, when a fibroid showed up on an ultrasound test she had received to monitor the pregnancy. For Morton, a geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the mass of fibrous, abnormal tissue in her uterus has not caused any noticeable problems. But some women who develop fibroids have trouble getting pregnant, and others experience heavy menstrual bleeding and intense pain that can be alleviated only by surgical removal of the uterus. In the United States, fibroids are the leading cause for that operation, a hysterectomy.

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