PASS IT ON: SURGICAL REMOVAL OF ENDOMETRIOSIS (THE EARLIER, THE BETTER) CAN LEAD TO HEALTHY PREGNANCY
A CALL TO SPREAD A MESSAGE OF HOPE, IN OBSERVANCE OF ENDOMETRIOSIS AWARENESS MONTH, MARCH 2010
Endometriosis Awareness Month is being observed now, as it is every March. Dr. Seckin said this is an ideal time to share with the tens of millions of women around the world who suffer from the disease endometriosis one of many messages of hope. Please also feel free to spread this message far and wide:
Early, proper treatment can make a difference. If this disease is caught early and properly treated (surgical removal is best) -- ideally when a woman is in her teens or early twenties -- what can result is a healthy woman who can choose to become a mother and get pregnant naturally, without assistive reproductive technology.
Endometriosis is a medical condition that occurs in and around female abdominal and pelvic region organs (and less commonly, even beyond). During the monthly period of a woman who has endometriosis, uterine lining leaks back into the body instead of out of it. That uterine lining then implants and grows in other areas of the body, causing pain, irregular bleeding and other complications. Untreated, endometriosis can be a debilitating ailment that is one of the top, three causes of female infertility. Yet, it is highly treatable.
To confirm that endometriosis exists, Dr. Seckin tells me that what is required is surgical diagnosis via laparoscopy and also endometrial glands must be present on the pathology report (microscopic exam). Beware of a laparoscopic diagnosis without a pathology report.
The most effective treatment method is laparoscopic excision surgery, which he says is far superior to general laparoscopic laser ablation, vaporization and other superficial means of endometriosis removal.
With laparascopic excision surgery a small excision is made by a surgeon who has been specially trained. The procedure attempts to remove all of the disease. Dr. Seckin has told me many times that he feels this is the gold standard of treatment. If all the disease is removed, 3 out of 4 women can go on to become pregnant, he suggests.
When warranted, excision surgery is how Dr. Seckin handles endometriosis, regardless of their age or how advanced their disease may be. Women with advanced endometriosis often get to that stage, he says, because they, like so many others, have not received a proper diagnosis. Many suffer for a decade or longer. Although endometriosis is common it frequently is misdiagnosed and mismanaged, Dr. Seckin says.
After successful surgical removal of endometriosis, the condition usually stabilizes with a decrease in pain. Even in some advanced cases women have become pregnant after excision surgery.
As we observe Endometriosis Awareness Month now, this is one of many messages that Dr. Seckin and I would like to get out to the world, so more women who have the disease can seek early treatment and live fuller, more productive lives.
Sadly, too many women do not receive proper treatment for their endometriosis. This often occurs because of common, societal prejudices and "taboo subject" notions. Because the subject may be taboo and not talked about enough or at all, Dr. Seckin says that women and adolescent girls may not have at hand the words and language they need to describe troubling symptoms with their doctor. Additionally, he says, the medical community needs to continue to improve its knowledge, diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
To help with this Dr. Seckin and several others created the Endometriosis Foundation of America (www.endofound.org) in the spring of 2009.
You may remember that over 30 years ago, one woman, First Lady Betty Ford, came out about her breast cancer at a time when, because of that disease's location, discussion of breast cancer was also considered a taboo subject. No one thinks of breast cancer as taboo today and millions of lives have been saved because of her courage.
Endometriosis of course is not the same as breast cancer. But importantly, Dr. Seckin says, although endometriosis is not cancer, studies have reported an increased risk of certain cancers in those with endometriosis, and have even documented malignant transformation of the disease itself in some.
In any event, as I know and Dr. Seckin has seen, endometriosis' effects can destroy the quality of your life. Yet if women--and also men--continue to spread the word about endometriosis like First Lady Betty Ford did for breast cancer, life for millions of women can improve.
Please share this message with the ones you love and care about. Spread the word via social media like Twitter and Facebook and follow Dr. Seckin at //twitter.com/drseckin
Together let's let women with endometriosis know that there is hope and they too may be helped.