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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 23:33 GMT 00:33 UK
Womb ops higher in poorer women
Unnecessary hysterectomies are still taking place
Unnecessary hysterectomies are still taking place
Poor women are more likely to be given a hysterectomy they do not need, according to a new study.

Women from richer backgrounds tend to opt for less drastic treatment.

It will take some time to persuade people that there are alternatives

Dr Mike Maresh, consultant gynaecologist
An Italian survey found that the rate of unneeded surgery was 35% higher in the poorest women.

Researchers think lack of information makes women on low incomes more likely to comply with an offer of hysterectomy.

In Italy, 37 in every 10,000 women have their womb removed because of problems like fibroids and non-cancerous tumours.

The rate, which is similar in the UK, is almost twice that of Scandinavian countries.

The researchers, led by Dr Enrico Materia, are calling for better education about less-invasive alternatives.

'Quick-fix' solution

Doctors in the UK say that some patients, particularly those from less affluent backgrounds, may refuse such options.

Dr Peter Bowen-Simpkins, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says doctors are often put under pressure to perform unnecessary operations.

"We are desperately trying to get our hysterectomy rates down as fast as we can," he told BBC News Online.

Dr Mike Maresh, a consultant gynaecologist in Manchester, says cultural factors are one of the main reasons for the socio-economic divide.

"It's very much a background cultural thing that some people see it as a quick-fix solution," he told BBC News Online.

"It will take some time to persuade people that there are alternatives."

See also:

20 Mar 02 | Health
Many womb ops 'unnecessary'
25 Feb 00 | Health
Wombs removed 'unnecessarily'
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