Are uterine fibroid tumors a sign of cancer?

A tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue that may be benign or malignant. Uterine fibroid tumors are benign.

From WebMD – Fibroids:

The correct medical term for what we’ve come to know as a fibroid is leiomyoma uteri. Leiomyoma uteri is a benign tumor made of smooth uterine muscle. Leio means “smooth,” my means “muscle,” and oma means “benign growth.” Fibroid tumors are therefore a collection of innocent uterine muscle cells that form a noticeable hard lump.

Wikipedia has a picture of a leiomyoma (fibroid) for those who want to take a quick look. More images can be found under Related Posts at the end.

From the Mayo Clinic – Uterine Fibroids:

Uterine fibroids are among the most common tumors in women. These noncancerous growths of the uterus may appear during your childbearing years. Also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.

From the National Institutes of Health’s publication “Fast Facts about Uterine Fibroids“:

Uterine fibroids are not cancerous. Fibroids are not associated with cancer; they rarely develop into cancer (in less than 0.1 percent of cases).

If you are still concerned about your risk of cancer in association with uterine fibroid tumors, talk to a health care professional.


Related Posts:
What are uterine fibroid tumors?
Psst… Where can I find pictures of fibroid tumors?


39 Responses to “Are uterine fibroid tumors a sign of cancer?”

  1. BHU Says:

    So my doc calls with the results of my CT scan. It confirmed what the ultrasound showed. A big honkin’ uterus with many fibroids. No problems outside the uterus or other organs. However, my doc insists that we need to schedule surgery “soon” with a GYN Oncologist present. He must have mentioned cancer at least five times during that discussion. Ok buddy, I read the research, the chances of me having cancer are about the same as me winning the lottery on the day I get hit by lightning so STOP TRYING TO FREAK ME OUT!!!

  2. Ann-Marie Says:


    I know exactly where you are coming from and your situation sounds really similar to what I went through before surgery. Even after my MRI (inconclusive) they couldn’t 100% rule out cancer and although my CA125 levels were in normal limits they just wouldn’t rule it out. My surgeon waited until the biopsy results were back before ruling it out and I was so paniced both before and after my surgery. I had to visit the oncology clinic twice before my surgery so I thought that they thought it was a cert. It turned out that they just put urgent cases through that clinic – I had DVT caused by the size of my fibroid- but they could have mentioned that rather than make me fear the worst.
    Ask what your blood levels are (this is an indicator but can show false results) but it seems as though no matter what complicated tests they do they just can’t say until they open you up!
    The odds of cancer are very low for fibroids but try not to read too much into situations (or surf the internet too much) as you can end up quite depressed with it (I wrote a will before going into hospital and was mentally preparing for not coming home).
    Stay positive and prepare to fight anything that comes your way!!!
    Sending you good vibes xx

  3. William Parker, MD Says:

    Fibroids are not cancer, nor do they turn into cancer. The CA-125 test is not a good test to tell if uterine muscle cancer (sarcoma) is present because fibroids make the test look falsely positive.

    The best test is a combination of an MRI with gadolinium (given at a specific time) and a blood test called LDH isoenzymes. These combined tests have almost 100% accuracy.

    For more about this, you can check the bottom of our webpage:

    I hope this is helpful.

  4. fibroid free Says:

    BHU – same with me. My doctor had me consult with a GNY oncologist AND had him scheduled on stand by during sugery….didnt need it..Yeah getting struck by lighting while buying lottery tickets LOL

    My RE was concerned becuase of the rapid growth and size of the broids….BUT they both said it ws unlikey….it was

  5. BHU Says:

    I really don’t think that my fibroids are growing that rapidly. I lost over forty pounds since my last annual exam and I think the weight loss just made noticing the enlarged uterus that much easier. I think it’s been around for a while. So I know that I don’t have cancer.
    The cancer thing is not the only reason I’m furious with my doc, he doesn’t even think that there are any alternatives besides hysterectomy, now! I am a military dependent so I get treated at a military hospital. I’ve gotten a second opinion from a civilian doctor . She is much less panicked about removing the uterus because of potential cancer (as a matter of fact I don’t think she even mentioned it) and has suggested that Lupron may shrink my uterus enough to allow for a less invasive hysterectomy. I want to continue treatment with the civilian but don’t know if the military insurance will pay. I’m currently trying to jump those hurdles. I will attempt to get more info on the gadolinium test and see if the military doc is willing to administer.

  6. Ann-Marie Says:

    William Parker,MD

    My reference to cancer and the CA125 test was when my MRI, ultrasound and all other blood tests came back inconclusive. It was just part of the full picture but was useful for my surgeon to know what he could potentially be letting himself in for. I went into surgery not knowing what my “tumour” was and it was only after biopsy that I knew for sure it was a fibroid.
    In my opinion no test for fibroids can be anywhere near 100% accurate otherwise my diagnosis would have been so much easier.

  7. EclecticGeek Says:

    Thanks for the great responses. I learned some new stuff so this “inquisitive geek” is happy. First, I headed over to Lab Tests Online and found some information on the CA-125 test and the one for LDH isoenzymes. After that, I checked Dr. Parker’s webpage. Here’s a quote:

    At the time of the MRI (a regular MRI machine), a liquid dye called Gadolinium is injected into a vein. If a sarcoma is present it will show more dye and appear brighter on the picture. The other part of the testing, the LDH blood test, measures an enzyme made in muscle cells. It turns out that sarcoma makes more LDH iso-enzyme 3 and this can be measured by the lab (but your doctor must ask for this test specifically). So, the combination of an abnormal MRI and LDH-3 can mean that a sarcoma is present.

    Please check the links for more info. There’s even an abstract from a paper on the MRI-Gadolinium/LDH isoenzymes combination test (at the bottom of in case “proof” that it works is one of those hurdles you have to jump. Best wishes.

    fibroid free:
    Always better to be cautious. Glad everything turned out well!

    From what you have posted on this site, it seems as though your case was quite involved. I understand why you needed a number of different tests so certain medical conditions could be eliminated prior to your surgery. Sorry for your scare but thanks for having such a positive attitude here.

    Dr. Parker:
    I’m such a “journal article junkie” that I wish I could get my hands on the full length version of that abstract at the bottom of your webpage on the MRI-Gadolinium/LDH isoenzymes combination test. It’s good that there is evidence of a more definitive way to detect this. Thanks for sharing the information.

  8. Elana Torres Says:

    For BHU…raise cain, able and adam and eve if you have to. Make enough noise and they will let you see the civillian dr. I had to have a cardiac ablation done and in no way was I going to let the local military doctors do it, they had ultrasounded the wrong arm once, kept trying to put me on meds I was allergic to et cetra. So I called the help line for the area and they were very helpful in getting my referral to a reputable electrophysiologist. Just keep at them with courtesy but determination. (Note, if the military doctor in question still has braces and wears tennis shoes, run.)

  9. EclecticGeek Says:

    Hi Elana,

    Thanks for the advice. Sorry you had to go through so much but I’m glad you were able to see the specialist you needed. Best wishes!

  10. Maria Says:

    Do uterine fibroids place a woman at higher risk for endometrial cancer?

  11. Debi Says:

    I have had fibroids for at least 8 years that I know of. I am quite thin and my uterus looks like I’m about 5 months pregnant just before and during my period.

    My Dr. has scared me to death as well, saying that his could be cancer, and did blood tests etc., I’m just waiting for the results.

    I’m not a good surgery candidate because of my allergies to almost every narcotic medication, so I’ve been trying to do the wait and watch thing, being 49 I’m sure menopause is around the corner. Yes, my fibroids are large, 2 being on the outside of my uterus and 1 on the inside. I just had to ask another opinion based on what I’ve told you. Any response from anyone would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  12. Debi Says:

    Well, I found out that my fibroids and cervix are free of cancer, but, my Dr. also found that I am postmenopausal, meaning I’ve already gone through menopause, but I’m still bleeding every month and quite heavily. He stated it is due to my fibroids being so big; 14.6 mm, 10.3 mm and 5.8 mm. He is saying surgery and I’m saying no. Help, and advise from anyone?

  13. Amy Says:

    Hi Debi, so, I was still bleeding for a long time even after my estrogen was way low… how did the doc determine you are actually post-menopausal. Did he test all your hormones? It seems that if you are cycling you are at least perimenopausal…(are you? or is it constant?)

    I keep advocating a hysteroscopic endometrial ablation… ’cause it took care of a submucosal fibroid they didn’t even know I had — and I’ve stopped bleeding for now… (I’ve written about it extensively in other places on this site so I won’t go on here)

    On the other hand, you have 3, and two larger ones… so maybe… besides the bleeding, what other symptoms do you have? I hate not being able to button up pants that otherwise fit fine…not to mention less bladder volume, etc. But if I end up going to surgery I’m still going to try to avoid a hysterectomy. I worry that the older I get, the doctors are going to push for one instead of an ab myomectomy or some of the other treatments… make sure you look into them. I did notice over to the left of these comments there is a study that says there are more complications with the Uterine Artery Embolizations… so you may want to read that… and the one above! eat more tomatoes! 🙂

  14. JoilironCop Says:

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  15. Claudia Says:

    Hello, all. I am old, and yet, new here.

    It’s 1AM and I’m a little anxious.

    I am 51 years old and peri-menopausal, and I have had numerous big honkin’ fibroids since my 20’s. They’ve never bothered me, so I never bothered them. Even now I am almost asymptomatic. However, a recent sonogram showed a big growth spurt. In less than one year one ‘broid went from 18.5×10.5×14.6 to 24.0×10.2×15.0. (Do I win a prize?).

    Anyway, I am scheduled for an MRI next week. I like to believe this growth spurt is just a last hurrah for my hormones before I hit menopause. But my Dr. mentioned referring me to an Oncologist, even before I’ve had the MRI. Why? Do Oncologists deal with benign tumors? Ever? Why mention ‘Oncologist’ before Cancer is diagnosed? (and yes, I understand Cancer is a small possibility).

    When the results of the sonogram came in, my doctor left a voice mail message for me indicating she had found an “abnormality” on the sonogram (the rapid growth spurt) and I should call her back ASAP. I left 3 messages and 2 contact phone numbers, yet it took over 24 hours to get a response, and the call was from her assistant, not the doctor herself. My friends/family/boyfriend were a little upset because I was upset.

    How can I now tell them this doctor may want to refer me to an Oncologist? Is my doctor an alarmist or am I being a big ol’ drama queen?

    Thanks all. Me and my big belly will try and get some sleep now.

  16. darcy Says:

    hi claudia

    it sounds to me like they’re being alarmist or, if you want to look at it more kindly, to play it safe. certainly i think it’s highly insensitive to make you wait that long before returning your call.

    my gynecologist discovered a tumor in my womb during a routine checkup, the tumor was about 15cms large, and had obviously had a sudden growth spurt. she told me that it was probably benign but did have to come out because it was so big. i was then sent to have an mri done, and the mri doctor told me that from the pictures he couldn’t tell if it was a fibroid or something malign, ie a sarcoma. i then went into a hospital that specialises in gynecological cancer, and they looked at the mri shots and did two different ultrasounds. they still weren’t sure what it was, and in the end my surgeon, who was really great, told me he was going to do a biopsy in the operation and if it was benign he would do a myomectomy and if it wasn’t, take out the womb. well, as it turns out it was benign and i had a myomectomy.

    i think the thing to remember is that a sudden growth spurt really doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s malign. statistically speaking it is extremely rare for a fibroid to get cancerous. and even if you’re one of the unlucky few, then the chances of recovery from cancer of the womb are good. it sounds like even if it should be cancerous, and i’m sure it’s not, they’ve caught it early on, which means the chances that they caught it in time are even better.

    try not to worry too much. and look at it this way. seeing an ocologist will help either in eliminating the possibility that it’s malign or if he confirms it, at least you’re in the hands of a expert who can act quickly, and get rid of the stupid thing so you can resume your life.

    fingers crossed and let us know what happens. lol.

  17. neelam Says:

    hey claudia,
    im 49, having 1 fibroid tumor of 13 x 10 x 10cms and the docs have really got me worried and i am scheduled for an operation and just a week 2 go….a hyserectomy…. i dont know if it is the right thing to go for…. the gynacs feel that it will put a lot of pressure to the kidneys and i should get operated immediately…. im absolutely confused….guys.. any suggestions would be appreciated and any gynac comments please??…

  18. Claudia Says:

    Do you have problems w/ fibroids? Pain? bleeding?

    Have you spoken to other doctors? GET A SECOND OPINION?

    I once had a doctor tell me if I did not have a hysterectomy ASAP, within 6 months my ‘broids would grow so large they would press against other organs and I would lose functionality in my bladder/kidneys etc. The fibroids would grow to press against my spine, and I would be paralyzed from the waist down, and by then it would be too late to operate.

    I got a second opinion, a doctor who said- well, you’re a-symptomatic now,- let’s wait and see.

    That was 23 years ago and I’m still walking.

    -Claudia- with at least one big honkin’ 24x10x15 cm ‘broid.
    51 years old and counting.

  19. Amy Says:

    For what it’s worth, my sister was told her endometrium was abnormally thick after she had an an ultrasound because of postmenopausal bleeding… then the doctor discovered it was actually the biggest intrauterine polyp she had ever seen! It took over the whole interior of the uterine cavity… she had it removed last week (went home the same day) and everything is OK… pathology report came back fine. I can easily imagine another doc might have told her to just have a hysterectomy… because of what it seemed to be and due to the heavy bleeding. Always get a second opinion when major surgery is involved!

  20. neelam Says:

    Hey Claudia,
    thanks so much for your response.. it really makes me feel more confident on not getting a hysterectomy done,as of now i have postponed the operation date. i never had any major symptoms, just that from the past few days i have been getting pain in my abdomen area,i have visited atleast 5 gynacs and they all have the same answer.Im going to another gynaec, for the last opinion today, and if he feels the pain can be controlled and its nothing major im not going for the surgery.Will keep u posted!

  21. Claudia Says:


    It’s great that you are asking questions and doing your homework! Good for you!

    Ask about other options, and if they would be right for YOU. There are some other procedures (embolization, for example, or MRI focused ultrasound). Other medical methods to shrink fibroids that involve less down-time than a hysterectomy.

    After you’ve seen other doctors, and they say surgery is the only option for you and you ARE in pain, then why suffer?

    Good luck!

    Claudia, tonight with PMS cramps- someone pass the CHOCOLATE!!!

  22. shellie Says:

    hi all im a 27year old woman who has be diagnosed with a tumour of my womb im sedchuled to have a total hysterectomy on friday the 11th april they have told me that it may be cancerous and it has spread to my right ovary and my cervixs but they will run test on friday once they have taken it away im flipping scared to death

  23. neelam Says:

    hey claudia,
    after loads of opinions from different doctors i came to the conclusion that i should get operated as my recent ultrasound scan showed that my fibroids had grown even further in size and the report showed a mild pressure on my kidney,i didnot go for a hysterectomy but a laproscopic myomectomy, where my fibroids have been removed keeping the uterus and ovaries intact, i had a one day hospital stay and today is my fourth day, i feel a lot lighter and i have very less pain though i am yet on painkillers.
    thanks for all help and god bless!

  24. neelam Says:

    hi shellie,
    i also have had fibroids infact 3 of them (1 very large and 2 small). i was also scheduled for a hysterectomy but i went for more doctors opinions,and did a lot of research on the internet about fibroids. i have finally gone for a laproscopic myomectomy where all the fibroids have been removed leaving the uterus and ovaries intact.todays is my fouth day and i feel a lot better, lighter afer the operation.
    do take a second opinion, also consider the fibroid size??, location, your problems associated with it, have you gone for a pap-smear test? a biopsy can test if your fibroids are cancerous…why dont you also email some doctors for their opinions??i have got operated by dr. rakesh sinha at beamshospital.
    good luck and do keep us posted!

  25. NI Says:

    Hi Shellie,
    I also agree with Neelam. Please go get some 2nd/3rd opinions before you choose a hysterectomy. Depending on the size and location of the growths there may be some alternatives to hysterectomy, such as myomectomy which removes fibroids but preserves your fertility. Fibroids are rarely cancerous from the research I have done, but no harm in a biopsy. I know it is very just hang in there. I am 33 and also have fibroids, and in January had a ovarian cyst removed via laparoscopy. My ultrasound actually only showed two abdominal masses, but when they looked inside during laparoscopy they found 6-7 fibroids + ruptured ovarian cyst. So you may consider laparoscopic procedure so they can tell for sure what’s inside. That is what my doc reccomended. My surgery/procedure was performed by Dr. Hector Medina in California.

  26. Claudia Says:

    Neelam- good for you! Glad all went well.

    Doctors are not gods and their word is not law. They are people, like you, and give their most educated opinion,

    Shellie- If what you have is a fibroid there is very little chance it will be cancerous BUT:


    good luck to all.

    Claudia, age 51, plowing through my 26th year with many fibroids, one as big as your head:)

  27. Dee Says:

    I’m a 45 year old woman and found out two weeks ago I have a large fibroid (first time they’ve ever been detected, though I go to the doctor annually). The first docs — oncological gynocologists — told me Thursday that my only choice is a hysterectomy and that my uterus is 18 weeks. I’m getting a second opinion from a doctor who has ordered an MRI (previously just had a pelvic ultrasound). Any tips on questions to ask as I move through the process of figuring out what to do? I’m perimenpausal, and have been for about two years. The tumor is basically asymptomatic, no pain, but heavy periods. Thanks.

  28. Amy Says:

    Dee, well, first of all – if it isn’t cancerous, don’t go to oncological gynecologists – ’cause their frame of reference is to just take it out! Though you’re perimenopausal, you might see if you can see someone that works with fertility specialists who are used to trying to save the uterus. I’ve been reading this board a long time now, and I’ve read of a number of women finding doctors who operate successfully after another doctor said it couldn’t be done! You didn’t mention the size of your fibroid (though you did say uterus is 18 wks…) or why they say hysterectomy is the only option… Go find some other opinions, ideally from docs who have no relationship to the others, as sometimes they seem to back each other up if they ever work together. Keep us posted and good luck!

  29. Amy Says:

    Damn emoticons! my close parenthesis, after mentioning the size of your uterus, turned into a smile of all things!

  30. be very cautious Says:

    hi, i went for a laproscopic removal of fibroids only, i had 1 very large though, it came out to be cancerous,i went for a hysterectomy 2nd operation in the same month, but the disadvantage is that it had spread out of the fibroid, probably because of laproscopy,hysterectomy would have solved all my problems if i went for it in th first place, so please be very cautious when deciding on your options.take care and god bless!

  31. Tom Says:

    Hello everyone, I am a concerned husband. My wife and I just got back from the Dr. and he said that because of the fast growth, ( three times the size in the last 6 weeks) that he is afraid that they ( fibroids) may be growing that fast because they might be cancerous. He has suggested a hysterctomy next week. Someone please tell me she will be ok. I just had a four way bypass 5 weeks ago so it has been tough around here. My wife is 62 years old.

  32. Aja Says:

    Hi Tom,

    It is concerning to have what are hormone-fed tumors growing so rapidly at an age when she is post-menopausal. The hysterectomy sounds like a very good idea to me.

    I am sure she will be OK. This is a very common procedure to have performed and once they go in they will be able to see precisely what is going on. They will be able to test the tumors, and they will only need to give additional treatment if it is necessary. No scary sounding guesses.

    My heart goes out to both you and your wife for having to deal with all these health issues at once. Quick healing to both of you.

  33. Brandy Says:

    Hang in there. The good thing is the fibroid growth issue has been noticed by your doctor. Like Aja mentioned, hysterectomy is common and having the tumors out seems like the best thing.

    Blessings and hugs!

  34. Kathy Says:

    Had a large fibroid tumor removed over twenty years ago, three years ago had a total hysterectomy because of another larg fibroid, just found out last week during a scan that I have another large tumor on my cervix and an enlarged kidney… Does this have to come out, have been using hormones creams and pills, would this cause this, I am in late 50’s

  35. mama Says:

    I cannot believe doctors are talking women into having hysterectomies at such a young age. This is CRIMINAL!!!

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