Hysterectomy Procedure May Spread Undetected Cancer!



Women who have hysterectomies for non-cancerous reasons my end up with leiomyosarcoma (LMS) and die within 2 – 3  years after their procedure.  On April 17th, 2014 the FDA issued a warning to health providers stating: “When used for hysterectomy or myomectomy in women with uterine fibroids, laparoscopic power morcellation poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue, notably uterine sarcomas, beyond the uterus.”

Power morcellators are medical devices used during various laparoscopic surgeries, such as hysterectomies and myomectomies, that aggressively cut uterine tissue into small pieces. This permits the tissue to be removed through a small incision site, with proposed benefits that include: shorter recovery periods, and fewer complications. However according to the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) power morcellation or other techniques that cut up the uterus in the abdomen have the potential to disseminate an otherwise contained malignancy throughout the abdominal cavity. For this reason, the SGO asserts that it is generally contraindicated in the presence of documented or highly suspected malignancy, and may be inadvisable in premalignant conditions or risk-reducing surgery.

The American Recall Center gives the following statistics:

  • Hysterectomy is the 2nd most common surgery among women in the United States
  • By age 70, one out of three American women will have had a hysterectomy
  • 90% of these surgeries are done to remove Fibroids (non-cancerous tumors found in the uterus)
  • The average life span following accidental morcellation of sarcoma is only 24-36 months
  • Only 15% of women who have leiomyosarcoma (LMS) that has spread (stage 4) will be alive after 5 years
  • Women with sarcoma who are morcellated are about 4 times more likely to die from sarcoma than if they had not been morcellated.

Some women undergoing Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy, Robotic Hysterectomy,  or Laparoscopic Myomectomy (Uterine Fibroid Removal) procedures may actually have undiagnosed sarcoma, which doctors are unable to detect prior to the uterine fibroid surgery. A potential side effect of morcellation for these women, which has not been adequately disclosed, is the risk that the morcellator may cause the spread of cancerous tissue throughout the abdomen and pelvis.

Three things women can do to prevent spread of LMS.

  1. Ask your health care provider to discuss all the options available to treat your condition and discuss the risks and benefits of each.
  2. If laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy is recommended, ask your health care provider if power morcellation will be performed during your procedure. Ask if an abdominal or vaginal hysterectomy would be a safer option for you.
  3. If you have already undergone a hysterectomy or myomectomy for fibroids, tissue removed during the procedure is typically sent to pathology to be tested for the presence of cancer. If you were informed these tests were normal and you have no symptoms, routine follow-up with your physician is recommended. Patients with persistent or recurrent symptoms or questions should consult their health care provider.