Almost 10 million American women of childbearing age are affected by chronic pelvic pain, gastrointestinal and urinary tract difficulties and infertility due to endometriosis, a strange condition, in which cells normally forming the lining of the uterus (endometrium) start colonizing other organs and tissues beyond the uterus. This year's annual meeting of gynecologic laparoscopic surgeons explores endometriosis from both the patient's and the physician's perspective in a Keynote session (8:00 to 10:00 AM Tuesday, November 8) at the 40th AAGL Global Congress of Minimally Invasive Gynecology that takes place from November 6 to 11, at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL. Keynote speaker and women's health advocate Padma Lakshmi, an international supermodel and TV show host, who co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America to encourage research to help other women to avoid her ordeal, declares: "Endometriosis is one of the most treatable, but least treated of women's health problems. Like me, many women suffer debilitating pain and other symptoms for as long as a decade before receiving an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment." Many women suffer silently or use painkillers, sometimes for years. Because pelvic pain can have many different causes, including appendicitis, bowel obstruction, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, diverticulitis, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids, IBS and many others, correct treatment can often be delayed further, as endometriosis is sometimes not immediately diagnosed. For example, in women with endometriosis on the intestines, symptoms may prompt a physician to suggest GI tests, which will not reveal the true problem. Lakshmi continues saying: "If a woman wants to have children, it's critical to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Endometriosis is one of the top three causes of infertility. Many women are delaying childbearing into their 30s and even 40s these days, but if you have had untreated endometriosis for many years, it may be too late. And that is a real tragedy." The currently most effective treatment is laparoscopic excision surgery as alternative medical therapies for endometriosis are extremely limited. Although the cause of endometriosis is unknown, researchers suspect a strong genetic component, as daughters of women suffering from the condition have a seven times higher risk of developing the disease themselves. During the AAGL meeting, members will present research on abnormal expression of Homeobox (HOX) genes (2:45 PM, Tuesday, November 8) in both the uterine lining and in the lesions of women with endometriosis. Homeobox genes play a major part in cancer and infertility. A better understanding of these genes could explain how and why endometriosis develops.