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Prominent Chicago Gynecologists Launch Treatment Project To Raise Awareness Among African American Women of Non-Invasive Ultrasound Uterine Fibroid Procedure
Date:2/24/2009

CHICAGO, Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A project to create awareness among African American women about a non-invasive outpatient uterine fibroid treatment using high energy ultrasound will begin in the Chicago area in March, led by two prominent and well respected African American gynecologists, Dr. Leonard Lawson and Dr. Eric Brown. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American women are 2 to 3 times more likely to get uterine fibroids than women of other ethnic groups.

Fibroids are benign growths in a woman's uterus that often cause unwanted symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, painful sex, pelvic pressure, and urinary problems. Certain types of fibroids may be related to infertility, and large fibroids may cause a woman to appear pregnant. A woman with symptomatic fibroids generally has diminished self-esteem, physical ability, and overall quality of life.

Dr. Lawson and Dr. Brown, who are affiliated with Northwestern Memorial and Rush Presbyterian Hospitals respectively, will perform the advanced, non- invasive procedure on African American women, follow their progress, collect data and communicate important information on the procedure to the community. Their hope is to further educate African American women through this outreach effort and that these women will spread the word about this non-invasive fibroid treatment, and allow the community to realize that invasive surgery is not the only solution to fibroids.

"It is important for the African American community to learn about and have access to a non-invasive FDA approved fibroid procedure," said Dr. Lawson, "this is important patient health education and as physicians we owe it to them." The pair believes there should be no disparity or barriers to access for women when it comes to non-invasive procedures and new medical technologies that may benefit them.

Dr. Lawson is referring to the ExAblate Magnetic Resonance guided Focused Ultrasound procedure, a fancy name for a treatment that uses high energy ultrasound waves that target and ablate the fibroids, while leaving healthy uterine tissue intact. The technology enables physicians to essentially change the fibroid's hardness from baseball-like to nerfball-like taking the pressure off of adjacent healthy tissues, which is eventually absorbed by the body. This outpatient, incisionless treatment takes 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the fibroids, and women generally go back to work the next day.

Hysterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, has traditionally been the most widely accepted solution to get rid of fibroids. Comprising over 600,000 patients per year, hysterectomy is the most common non- obstetrical operation performed in US women. Recovery time after this invasive surgery is lengthy, and without a uterus, women are no longer able to have children and they can be left with undesirable hormone imbalances.

Other fibroid options include myomectomy (surgical removal of individual fibroids) and uterine fibroid embolization (a minimally-invasive procedure to block blood flow to the fibroids). Both of these procedures still require an incision into the body and a hospital stay, but preserve the uterus. Conservative approaches to fibroid management include drug therapy, which requires continued use for temporary relief, and watchful waiting, which is not an option to many women who already have fibroid related symptoms. ExAblate is the only non-invasive part of a medical outpatient fibroid ablation procedure.

Lawson and Brown will perform this procedure at Medical Imaging of Northbrook Court, imaging center located at the Northbrook Court on Lake Cook Road near Skokie Highway in Northbrook. The center's medical director, Dr. Richard Mintzer has performed this procedure since 2005 using the ExAblate. He commented, "I'm amazed at how well women tolerate the procedure, how quickly they recover, and most importantly, how effective this procedure is in alleviating fibroid symptoms."

This project marks the first widespread awareness campaign aimed at educating African American patients about all of their fibroid options. Mintzer adds, "We have an experienced team of medical professionals that will determine if the patient is suitable for the ExAblate procedure, and also guide the patient through the insurance process. Not all fibroid patients are candidates for ExAblate -- we have to ensure they meet the FDA guidelines and get a safe treatment."

"By treating fibroid symptoms, we can improve a woman's quality of life and her self esteem," stated Lawson. Brown added, "and since the ExAblate treatment allows her to go back to work the next day, there is no lost productivity -- a lot of these women simply can't afford to take time off work."

Jacqueline J. Wooten, a 45 year-old African American from Shiloh, IL, recently underwent the ExAblate procedure at Medical Imaging of Northbrook Court and commented, "My uterine fibroids were causing pain and visibly protruded from my abdomen so it was uncomfortable and unsightly. I did not want to have surgery for many reasons, one of them was that being self employed I could not afford weeks off of work. After my procedure I was back to work the next day and I was ecstatic. Within a couple of weeks my symptoms were gone and the fibroid unnoticeable. More women need to know about this."

To learn more about this African American Fibroid Project, the ExAblate procedure, or to see if you or a loved one may be a candidate for this project, visit http://www.uterine-fibroids.org/ChicagoFibroidProject.html or call project coordinator Rhoda Rancap, RN, MS at 847-509-1852


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SOURCE Medical Imaging of Northbrook Court
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