Gynaecologists are keeping a watchful eye on how well the new drugs for treating fibroidsBenign tumours, most often in the uterus. are performing in clinical trials. Many women show no symptoms when these benignNot dangerous, usually applied to a tumour that is not malignant. growths start to form in the uterusThe womb, where embryo implantation occurs and the growing foetus is nourished., but for others the symptoms of fibroids including heavy bleeding and distressing levels of pain. There are a good range of treatment options ranging from hysterectomyThe surgical removal of the uterus (womb). to embolisation, but if a relatively simple drug treatment was available, with no side-effects this would clearly be the favoured option for most women.
Although there are a range of drugs available for treating fibroids, the traditional ones have not been particularly effective and have been associated with bad side-effects, and so there use has. up to now, been restricted. As Consultant Gynaecologist, Mr Ertan Saridogan explains, "The low oestrogenA hormone involved in female sexual development, produced by the ovaries. levels also cause side effects similar to the symptoms of menopauseThe time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle. such as hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. It also causes loss of bone density (osteoporosisA condition resulting in brittle bones due to loss of bony tissue.) and, for this reason these [traditional] drugs can only be used for a limited period of 3–6 months."
The new drug ulipristal acetate, however, according to the New England Journal of Medicine seems to be performing better, and with far fewer side effects. They report the results of a recent study that shows that uterine bleeding was controlled in 90% of patients receiving 5 mg of ulipristal acetate, in 98% of those receiving 10 mg of ulipristal acetate. This compares with 89% of those receiving patients receiving the older drug leuprolide acetate. Median times to amenorrhea (no bleeding) were 7 days for patients receiving 5 mg of ulipristal acetate, 5 days for those receiving 10 mg of ulipristal acetate, and 21 days for those receiving the leuprolide acetate. Moderate-to-severe hot flashes were reported for 11% of patients receiving 5 mg of ulipristal acetate, for 10% of those receiving 10 mg of ulipristal acetate, and for 40% of those receiving leuprolide acetate.