Studies Show Power Morcellator Devices Carry Cancer Spread Risk
All surgeries come with some risk, and now studies show that while a common procedure among women – a hysterectomy – may relieve women of the pain and symptoms of fibroids and other uterine conditions, they face an increased risk of cancer in return. Power morcellators are often used in hysterectomies because they involve fewer risks and recovery, but studies show that these devices can do more harm than good.
Power morcellators work by making a small incision in the abdomen. The devices then use their blades to break down the tissue. The fibroids and chopped up and vacuumed out of the body. This method, however, causes any cancer cells in the body to split up and spread.
One recent study showed that of 7,500 women undergoing fibroid removal or hysterectomy, 1 in 368 already had uterine cancer. Morcellators could cause these cancer cells to spread throughout the abdomen and make treatment challenging.
Another study showed that women who undergo hysterectomies have a higher risk of undetected cancer than those who use the morcellators to remove fibroids. Another finding showed that this risk increased in older women. When a study broke down 76 cases of uterine cancer, women older than 60 accounted for 3.4% of uterine cases; those between 50 and 59 accounted for 0.62% and those younger than 40 were the least at risk, with 0.05%.
This is likely because older women are more apt to undergo hysterectomies since their childbearing days are over, whereas younger women who have not finished their families tend to put off hysterectomies so they can keep their uterus intact for as long as possible.
The Food and Drug Administration has become aware the risks involved with using power morcellators and is now imposing restrictions on these devices. In 2013, power morcellators faced scrutiny after several women who underwent routine procedures saw their cancer spread. Lawsuits were filed after many of these women died. The device is not yet banned from use, but the label does have a black box warning; this is the strongest warning from the FDA. Many doctors and hospitals are taking the warning seriously and as a result, many are refusing to use morcellators. Even some insurance companies are following suit and have put stricter procedures in place.
Women who have developed uterine cancer, such as leiomyosarcoma after a fibroid removal procedure or hysterectomy, may be entitled to compensation from the morcellator manufacturer. To determine if you may have a claim, contact us now for a free, confidential consultation.