Transcript: The Estimated Annual Cost of Uterine Leiomyomata in the United States

Audio News Briefing
The Estimated Annual Cost of Uterine Leiomyomata in the United States

Operator: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for waiting. Welcome to the Uterine Fibroid News Conference Call. All lines have been placed on listen-only mode and the floor will be open for your questions following the presentation.

Without further adieu, it is my pleasure to turn the call over to your host, Mr. Bob Bock.  Mr. Bock, the floor is yours.

Bob Bock: Thank you.  Welcome to the National Institutes of Health Audio News Briefing.  I am Robert Bock, Press Officer of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

I would now like to introduce Dr. James Segars of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, who will describe his study on the economic costs of uterine fibroids, after which he will take questions from those on hold.  Dr. Segars, thank you.

James Segars: Thank you very much, Mr. Bock.  I'm James Segars of the Program in Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland.

Uterine fibroids are the most common reproductive disorder of women.  One in two women will develop fibroids prior to menopause.  About 1 percent of women will seek treatment each year because of symptoms due to uterine fibroids.  Fibroids can cause pain, bleeding and pelvic pressure, and because of these symptoms and their large size, many women require treatment.  Approximately 30,000 myomectomies and 200,000 hysterectomies are performed each year in the United States due to uterine fibroids.  Other treatments are performed as well, but it is also important to consider that fibroids affect women who are building families and are pregnant.  In fact, the incidence in pregnancy may be as high as 10 percent in women 20 to 40 years of age.  Because of their involvement of uterus during pregnancy, there is a significant increase in obstetric complications in women who have uterine fibroids during pregnancy.  For example, caesarean sections increase several-fold in women who have fibroids that affect the uterus during pregnancy.  While there have been several studies that have assessed the societal costs of uterine fibroids, no prior studies had included the costs of obstetrical complications attributable to uterine fibroids.  Therefore, the goal of our study was to estimate the annual cost of uterine fibroids, including pregnancy and obstetric-related cost, as well as indirect cost.  Our analysis was based on several sources of data, including one key calculation, which was that approximately 0.92 percent of women aged 25 to 54 years of age sought care annually for uterine fibroids, and of that number, about -- I'm sorry -- 94 percent seek treatment within a year of diagnosis.

The key points of the paper that we presented were that fibroids contribute substantially to the health care -- the costs of the health care system in the United States.  Some noteworthy points are the pregnancy-related costs range from $0.2 billion to $7.7 billion a year; the annual direct costs -- which include surgery, hospital, medications and outpatient treatment -- are approximately $4.1 billion to $9.1 billion a year; the largest contributor was lost work, which was $1.5 billion to $17.2 billion a year; and that the total costs were estimated to range from $5.8 billion to $34.4 billion per year.

While our study was a cost estimate, it’s interesting to compare the costs relative to other conditions that affect women, and it turns out that if one does this, fibroids are one of the most costly conditions.  Even at the lower limit of $5.1 billion per year, which is a considerable expense, fibroids result in a considerable expense to the United States health care system.

If one could minimize the number of women undergoing hysterectomy, it would be possible to save 25 percent annually in costs due to lost work because of uterine fibroids.

In conclusion, our results emphasize the importance of developing new, effective treatments for fibroids and earlier diagnosis for uterine fibroids.

Thank you very much.  Back to you, Mr. Bock.

Bob Bock:Thank you, Dr. Segars.  Alright.  If -- this is a good time to open it up to questions.  If there's anyone on the line who has questions, we'd be happy to hear them.  Operator?  Operator?

Operator: Certainly.

Bob Bock: Thank you.

Operator: The floor is now open for questions.  If you do have a question, please press the number 7 on your telephone keypad.  Questions will be taken in the order they are received.  If at any point your question has been answered, you may press 7 again to disable your request.  If you are using a speaker phone, we ask that while posing your question you pick up your handset to provide for favorable sound quality.  Please wait while -- please hold while we wait for the first question.  It appears there are no questions in the queue at this time.

Bob Bock: Okay.  Alright.  If there are no questions, we'll conclude our briefing.  If anyone would -- needs anything else, has a follow-up, please e-mail me at  Thank you, operator, and we will conclude our briefing for today.

Operator: Thank you.  This does conclude today's teleconference.  We thank you for your participation.  You may now disconnect your line.

top of pageBACK TO TOP