Endometriosis highlighted as “hidden disease” in women’s health

18 OCTOBER 2007

A special focus review collection has been compiled and published by Women’s Health where editor, Professor Thomas D’Hooghe, highlights endometriosis as the “hidden disease” and reviews state-of-the-art thinking in managing this major problem.

Picture of Professor D'Hooghe
Professor D’Hooghe

Future Medicine has announced the publication of The Challenge of Endometriosis a collection of key reviews highlighting state-of-the-art thinking in managing a major problem in women’s health.

The Special Focus review collection, published in Women’s Health, has been compiled and contributed to by the Editor, Professor Thomas D’Hooghe of Leuven University Fertility Center, Belgium. He and his colleagues have written a series of comprehensive articles, focusing on the major issues in endometriosis and future prospects in research and management.

Endometriosis affects tens of millions of women worldwide, and can seriously affect a woman’s day-to-day life, affecting her ability to finish her education, maintain a career and have a family.

The Special Focus includes four articles, covering the future of basic and clinical research, a detailed discussion of two of the most promising new drug classes, selective estrogen-receptor modulators and aromatase inhibitors, a report on endometriosis in African women, and an insight into Professor D’Hooghe’s latest work with an experimental model of the disease.

In his introduction to a special focus on the topic in Women’s Health, Professor D’Hooghe explains that “The disease often has a crippling effect on a woman’s life, but it is not recognised by society in general (or many healthcare professionals) because it does not cause visible handicaps. In addition, endometriosis is shrouded in a cloud of taboos regarding menstruation, sexuality, infertility and pain – particularly in the developing world.”

Commenting on the reports, Professor William Ledger, Head of Reproductive and Developmental Medicine at the University of Sheffield, said “Endometriosis remains an under researched and enigmatic disease. It affects the lives of millions of women in Europe, sometimes cripplingly. At its worst it can resemble a cancer, with repeated major surgery and drug treatments with powerful side effects. The disease strikes the young – one sees patients with severe endometriosis who are under 20, and most are under 35. We still know little about the disease – why some are affected and others are not, why some have severe problems while others are less so. We do not even understand why women with endometriosis are sometimes infertile.”

Professor D’Hooghe feels that this lack of recognition has led to a discrepancy between the high prevalence and socioeconomic impact of endometriosis and the lack of funds available to researchers in the field. He says, “Despite the enormity of the problem, there is little funding available for research”. Given the under-recognition of the condition, these four review articles by a leading expert should be of great interest to all researchers in the field.

Professor Ledger summarised, “This edition pulls together the major strands of research knowledge in the areas of cause, diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. It allows readers to acquaint themselves rapidly with the complexities of this disorder and its treatment. We must hope that it will stimulate new thinking in the field and attract interest from those researching in other areas who identify synergies in the papers presented.”

Lone Hummelshoj, one of the world’s most prominent advocates for women with endometriosis and publisher/editor-in-chief of www.endometriosis.org, welcomes this issue of Women’s Health. “Endometriosis can rob thousands of girls of healthy teenage years and threaten their fertility, and many young women endure the pain of endometriosis without fully understanding its implications”, says Hummelshoj. “An entire issue dedicated to shedding light on the disease will hopefully contribute to a better and wider understanding of endometriosis, so that women will not suffer in silence like their mothers and grandmothers, bearing in mind that endometriosis has strong genetic links”, concludes Hummelshoj.

The full collection of articles is available free of charge for a period of 2 weeks from 18 October 2007 from the following location: http://www.futuremedicine.com/toc/whe/3/5

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