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Early detection of endometriosis key for treatment, say experts

IANS Mar 18, 2024

Early detection is crucial for boosting treatment for endometriosis, often dismissed as painful periods, according to experts on 17 March.

Endometriosis is a painful gynaecological condition that affects roughly 190 million girls and women of reproductive age worldwide. About 43 million women in India suffer from endometriosis.

Although there is currently no known way to prevent endometriosis, early diagnosis, and management can help slow down "the natural progression of the disease and reduce the long-term burden of its symptoms, including possibly the risk of central nervous system pain sensitisation", as per the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"The symptoms of endometriosis can vary from person to person and may not correlate with the severity of endometriosis. Most women with endometriosis tend to have painful periods which may be attributed to the normal menstrual cramps and diagnosis is often delayed," said Gayathri D Kamath, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore.

Gayathri said that excessive pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea), painful intercourse (dyspareunia), chronic pelvic pain, severe backache, or constant painful urge to defecate during and around periods are some of the red flags. In addition, difficulty getting pregnant (infertility) can also be associated with endometriosis.

There has been some evidence to show that endometriosis can, in some cases, raise the risk of endometrial cancer.

"Endometrial cancer incidence and disease-associated mortality are rising worldwide, including in India and among younger women," said Vicky Makker, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK).

"This underscores the importance of awareness and early detection efforts."

The doctor also called for recognising the risk factors associated with endometrial cancer, "including early menarche, late menopause, nulliparity and genetic syndromes."

Hormone therapy may help ease endometriosis symptoms, but surgery (laparoscopy) may be a better treatment option.

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