Last Updated: 2008-03-13 11:27:00 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - African American women with uterine leiomyomata tend to be younger at diagnosis and have more severe disease than white women with leiomyomata, according to a report in the February issue of American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
"There are underlying genetic liabilities in some women to develop uterine fibroids, and this finding is reinforced by our study identifying race as a risk factor for symptom severity and age at diagnosis," principal investigator Dr. Cynthia C. Morton from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, told Reuters Health.
Dr. Morton and colleagues examined the relationship between symptom severity and age at diagnosis with race in women with uterine leiomyomata who had at least one sister with uterine leiomyomata.
Compared with white participants, the authors report, African American women were significantly younger at diagnosis, had fewer days between periods, and more severe menstrual pain.
Similar results were obtained when probands and their sisters were analyzed separately, the investigators say.
African American women were also more likely than white women to meet the investigators' criteria for severe disease, even after adjusting for known uterine leiomyomata risk factors.
"We are presently conducting a genome-wide scan of DNA samples from about 375 affected sister-pairs and their family members to identify genetic loci that result in a predisposition to develop uterine fibroids," Dr. Morton said. "We will be looking at all of the environmental variables for interaction with any genetic loci that we discover through the genome-wide scan to assess genetic-environmental interactions."
"Future medical management decisions for women with uterine fibroids may include genetic testing to identify susceptibility alleles that could result in an increased risk (of developing) additional fibroids," the researcher continued.
"Due to the health disparity of uterine fibroids for black women, it is especially critical to the success of our research to have them participate" in research, Dr. Morton emphasized. "Participation involves completion of a questionnaire survey and providing a blood or saliva sample, as outlined on our Web site (www.fibroids.net) concerning the 'Finding Genes for Fibroids' study."
Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;198:168.e1-168.e9.