This common surgical procedure spreads deadly cancers

In the mid ’90s a new procedure was introduced to make hysterectomies easier and shorten hospital stays.

But that new method has fatal flaws.

Flaws that have turned the most common surgery in the U.S. into a death sentence for untold numbers of women.

It’s so bad that even the FDA has admitted that it can be a killer. But many doctors still use this technique, claiming it can be done “safely.”

If you or a loved one has been told to get a hysterectomy, do not undergo this type of surgery. If your doctor insists on using this deadly method, then find another doctor.

Keep reading to learn how dangerous it can be…

The procedure is called morcellation, and it’s meant to make a hysterectomy easier. Surgeons use an electrical device to chop up fibroids — or even the uterus itself — so it can be removed through a small incision.

But the result of that chopping can be to spread undetected cancer cells throughout a woman’s body.

Experts have known for over 20 years about the risk — and yet doctors keep doing it. Their “excuse” is that spreading cancer this way is extremely rare. And that morcellation makes the surgery much easier.

And so surgeons have continued using it — knowing about the danger but not warning patients.

But now a battle against the method was started by not one, but two doctors. And for very personal reasons.

Dr. Amy Reed is an anesthesiologist at Beth Israel hospital in Boston. Her husband, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Last October Dr. Reed underwent morcellation surgery. Her doctor “chopped up” what they thought were fibroid tumors and removed them through a small incision. Only she didn’t have fibroids. She had cancer. And a short time later she learned that the surgery had spread the cancer all over her body.

These types of uterine cancers are almost always never discovered before they are removed. That’s what makes this kind of surgery so dangerous.

Her husband began a one-man crusade against the practice. He started a petition to have it banned, along with an email campaign to tell other doctors how dangerous the practice is. He contacted the heads of hospitals and told them that banning this procedure is “the responsible thing to do.”

Other doctors told him to “tone it down,” that what he was doing wasn’t professional. But he only got louder.

And because of his efforts, the FDA finally stepped in and said it now “discourages” the use of the chopping device because it can spread “undetected cancerous tissue.”

Dr. Noorchashm estimated that everyday 2 to 5 women in the U.S. will have “a deadly cancer spread” by such surgery.

He also warned against robotic hysterectomies, especially ones using a device called the “DaVinci Robot.” He said that these robots also can “mince up” the uterus, causing the same risks.

In a recent letter to members of a Senate committee, Dr. Noorchashm argued that continuing to use morcellation is a result of a “failure” of education, ethics and responsibility at the “very highest levels” of the healthcare industry.

The FDA, which originally approved the slicing devices, didn’t outright ban them, as Dr. Noorchashm had asked. But it will be holding a public meeting and will receive “input” from experts at a later date.

Thanks, FDA! You just sit and think about it some more. All while you know that women will continue to be killed by the procedure.

So it’s up to us. Please make sure that you, your wife, or any women you know do not agree to morcellation as part of a hysterectomy. The risks are just far too great — even if it is easier for the surgeon.

Sources:
“FDA advises against morcellator use in hysterectomies” Jon Kamp, April 17, 2014, The Wall Street Journal, online.wsj.com

“FDA discourages use of laparoscopic power morcellation for removal of uterus or uterine fibroids” FDA news release, April 17, 2014, fda.gov