Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Uterine growths are tissue enlargements of the female womb (uterus). Uterine
growths can be caused by either harmless or dangerous conditions. Growths are
sometimes referred to medically as masses or tumors. An example of a harmless
(benign or non-cancerous) growth, which does not pose a threat, is a
cervix. Some growths, such as
uterine fibroids, are benign, but they can
still cause some annoying problems, such as bleeding. Other dangerous growths of
the uterus include cancerous (malignant) growths.
While the majority of uterine growths are benign,
cancers of the uterus do
occur. This article will discuss the benign conditions that cause uterine
growths or masses. Benign growths, or non-cancerous, growths include uterine
fibroids, adenomyosis, and uterine polyps.
The uterus (or womb) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ that is located in a
woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum. The narrow, lower
portion of the uterus is the cervix; the broader, upper part is known as the
corpus. The cervix forms the transition between the uterus and the
vagina, or birth canal, connects the uterus to the outside of the body.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign masses that grow in the uterus for unclear
reasons. Uterine fibroids are commonly called by the shorter name, "fibroids."
The medical term for a fibroid is
leiomyoma, which refers to a proliferation or
abnormal growth of
smooth muscle tissue. Uterine fibroids arise from the tissue
in the muscle layer of the wall of the uterus, called the
myometrium. They are
The reason why some women develop fibroids is not yet understood. Family history may play a role, since there is often a history of fibroids developing in women of the same family. Fibroids are estimated to occur in up to 25% of all women. For poorly understood reasons, fibroids are more common in African American women (a two to three fold increased risk) than in Caucasian or Asian women. Fibroids are most common between the ages of 35-49.
In addition, women who are
overweight have an increased risk of fibroids. Most
women with fibroids probably go through life not even knowing they have them,
because fibroids are often found incidentally during diagnostic or therapeutic
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 4/2/2012