PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There’s growing concern a device used during hysterectomies can spread cancer.
Early this year, the FDA discouraged the use of morcellators during gynecologic surgery. Now, a new study is raising more questions.
Amy Reed had a hysterectomy last year because she had large fibroids. Now the 41-year-old mother of six is battling stage 4 cancer.
“Sarcoma is a bad cancer, it comes back often,” says Reed.
Doctors used a morcellator during her minimally invasive surgery. The device allows surgeons to fragment the uterus into smaller pieces, so they can remove it through small incisions.
But Reed had a cancer that was not previously picked up.
“So they took it from contained within the fibroid within my uterus, and spread the cancer throughout my abdomen,” said Reed.
New research from Columbia University estimates one in 368 women have uterine cancer at the time of their procedure. The study found older women were at the greatest risk for cancer.
“I would say that these findings suggest that cancer is more common than what has been previously believed,” said Dr. Jason Wright, of Columbia University.
“Right now, we don’t have a great way to separate women who have regular fibroids from cancerous ones,” Dr. Paula Duncan, an OB/GYN at St. Clair Hospital, said.
Reed and her husband testified before the FDA earlier this month. They hope the agency bans the device and saves more women from what Reed us going through.
“You are basically playing Russian Roulette with that patient’s life,” said Hooman Noorchashm, Reed’s husband.
Dr. Duncan did perform morcellation, but has now stopped.
“At this time, I don’t feel comfortable offering it, mostly because I can’t offer it in the situation of putting that specimen in a bag and morcellating it, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting them at that risk until we know, until we have more information about the safety profile,” she said.
Understanding how often a hidden cancer is found is an important step in fully understanding risk. Women who are considering morcellation should know the deadly risk is small, but not zero.