Each year, tens of thousands of women in United States undergo hysterectomies or myomectomies for treatment of uterine fibroids. While fibroids aren’t normally dangerous, they can be bothersome, causing heavy bleeding, pelvic pressure and frequent urination.
Over the years, laparoscopic power morcellators became a go-to treatment for uterine fibroids since it’s minimally invasive and can shorten recovery time. Now, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, laparoscopic power morcellators should be a treatment of last resort.
Medical experts say fibroids may harbor unknown cancer cells that are almost impossible to detect prior to surgery. When power morcellators shred the fibroids, they in turn spew cancerous cells throughout the abdomen, pelvis and other tissues. In essence, the device’s spinning blade seeds cancer in the body, making it worse.
A woman with undiagnosed Stage 1 uterine cancer can quickly get to Stage IV after power morcellation surgery. Cancer is considered Stage IV when it has spread to the lymph nodes, bladder, rectum or distant tissues or organs. Uterine cancer upstaged by power morcellators is aggressive and can even spread to the spine or lungs.
The following types of cancer have been tied to power morcellators:
- Endometrial Cancer/Endometial Stromal Sarcoma
- Leiomyosarcoma (LMS)
- Lung Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Uterine Cancer