A new treatment for Endometriosis

A new treatment for Endometriosis occupational health news

A breakthrough in treating Endometriosis

In the UK, 1 in 10 women of reproductive age will suffer from Endometriosis. About 1.5m women in the UK are currently living with the condition. It arises when cells similar to those the endometrium, the lining of the womb, are found elsewhere in the body.

The condition can strike anytime between puberty to menopause and because the endometrial cells act in the same way as those in the womb, the monthly cycle can have a devastating impact on some people, causing inflammation, pain and forming scar tissue.

Endometriosis often presents with painful periods, pain during or after sex, infertility, painful bowel movements and fatigue. It is not an infection and it is not contagious. The cause of Endometriosis is not fully understood.

There is no cure for Endometriosis. Existing treatments aim to reduce the severity of symptoms and to improve quality of life. Surgery may be suggested, hormone treatment may be possible, yet many people have to rely on pain relief and management to live a normal life.

A new drug trial

Whilst treatment options have not changed much in years, one clinical trial of a new treatment is showing promising results. The trial is targeting an existing drug (dichloroacetate, also treats rare metabolic conditions) at a chemical called Lactate. Lactate is also associated with helping cancer cells to spread. The hypothesis is that Lactate may help the lesions caused by Endometriosis to form.

The small group of patients treated with dichloroacetate reported improved quality of life and reduced pain levels. Larger studies will ne needed to validate the results, but the prospect of a new treatment for the condition is exciting.

A new test for Endometriosis

A French firm is also marketing a saliva test for Endometriosis, which may also provide incredibly helpful. The test claims to be able to diagnose the condition within two days. If it proves to be effective, it may revolutionise care for thousands of women.

Currently, the condition can take many years to diagnose. This can be because the symptoms are not always specific, for example, possibly being deemed to be period pains. Definitive diagnosis usually requires surgery to find the lesions, which do not always show up on scans.

Given the number of women affected by the condition every year, often with excruciating symptoms and profound impact on quality of life, the diagnostic and treatment advances are very welcome.

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