SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – From 2002 to 2013, the prevalence of uterine fibroids quadrupled in South Korea, with the increased occurrences most commonly observed among women in their 20s and 30s.
Medical researchers and gynecologists from Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital combed through the records of 1 million women of childbearing age (15 through 55) at the National Health Insurance Service to discover the upward trend.
Uterine fibroids are the most common types of benign tumors that form in a woman’s body. Though some women may experience no symptoms whatsoever, those that do undergo bouts of pain and irregular menstrual bleeding. In more uncommon cases, fibroids can cause infertility and miscarriages.
Prevalence rates starting in 2002 were measured at 0.62 percent and rose to 2.48 percent by 2013. Broken down into age groups, the researchers found women between the ages of 45 and 49 consistently had the highest prevalence rate. In 2013, the group mentioned above had a prevalence rate of 5.07 percent, meaning 1 out of 20 women in that age range was carrying uterine fibroids. Annual incidence rates were also the highest compared to other age groups.
Following on their heels were women in the 26 to 30 and 31 to 35 ranges. Those in the former group saw their annual incidence rates nearly quadruple from 0.21 percent to 0.73 percent. For the latter, the jump was not as high but was still significant, increasing by 2.68 times.
Based on prior research that alludes to the possibility that the chances of uterine fibroid increase among women who have never been pregnant (aging also increases these chances), the research team suggested that the social shift towards marrying later has had an impact on the incidence rates.
Accordingly, surgery for uterine fibroids has also become more common, with 1,039 operations conducted in 2013 compared to only 561 in 2002. Myomectomies (surgical removal of fibroids only) increased in proportion to hysterectomies (partial or complete removal of the uterus), from 22 percent of all surgeries in 2002 to 49 percent in 2013.
Citing the data, the research team emphasized the need for women to receive periodic examinations to detect harmful uterine fibroids at an early stage.