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Scientists discover breakthrough in endometriosis treatment

Scientists at the Royal Hospital for Women in New South Wales, Australia have discovered a breakthrough in endometriosis treatment.

Scientists at the Royal Hospital for Women in New South Wales, Australia have discovered a breakthrough in endometriosis treatment.

The researchers were able to take tissue from women who were having surgery for endometriosis and grow it in a lab, allowing them to test hundreds of different treatments and their effects on the tissue.

Not all cases of endometriosis are the same and this new approach will allow doctors to vary treatments for different types of endometriosis, and whether the patient will need fertility treatment.

The scientists are also working on a diagnostic blood test which could help to identify subtypes of the disease.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that causes the lining of the womb to grow in other organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

The condition causes pain, which is often peaks during your period. It may also cause heavy periods, fertility issues and depression when left untreated.

Indeed, 30–50% of women with endometriosis experience difficulties getting pregnant, and while many undergo surgery to improve the chances of getting pregnant, this is not always successful.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), endometriosis affects roughly 10% (190 million) of reproductive age women and girls globally. But despite this high prevalence, on average, it takes 6.5 years to receive a diagnosis.

How is endometriosis treated?

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are various ways to ease and treat symptoms. Painkillers are often recommended, as well as hormonal contraception (such as the pill, the patch and the implant), and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues.

Surgery may also be necessary if symptoms are persistent. The surgeon will either cut away patches of endometriosis tissue or remove part or all of the organs affected. However, this surgery can be invasive, and can cause further problems such as infections, bleeding or damage to affected organs.

The researchers hope this new breakthrough will present women with alternative treatment options and avoid invasive surgery wherever possible.

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Jason Abbott said it compared to developments made in the treatment of breast cancer.

“Thirty years ago, we treated all breast cancers the same; we now know there are many different types of breast cancer and treat them accordingly.

“This is a similar breakthrough and will allow more targeted and therefore more effective treatment, depending on the type of endometriosis a patient has,” he said.

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