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Hysterectomy Procedure may Spread Cancer

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A new study has provided more evidence that a hysterectomy procedure known as power morcellation may spread cancer.

The procedure, performed on about 50,000 women a year, uses a device to cut uterine tissue into pieces before removing them through small incisions made during minimally invasive surgery, the New York Times reported. The procedure is also used to remove fibroid tumors.

Recent studies have hinted that some women may have been inadvertently put at risk when the device sliced into tumors that they and their doctors did not know were there. Once the tumors were cut into, they spread cancer cells through the abdomen, researchers believed.

That theory was supported by a new study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons found that undetected tumors in women having hysterectomies are more prevalent than many experts had thought, which suggests that the procedure should be limited or even eliminated, the New York Times reported.

Lead researcher Dr. Jason D. Wright and his team analyzed a large insurance database that featured 15 percent of hospitalizations nationwide from 2006 to 2012. They identified 232,882 cases at 500 hospitals in which women underwent minimally invasive hysterectomies using differing approaches, including 36,470 women who had power morcellation, the New York Times reported.

Of the more than 36,000 women, 99 had uterine cancer that was detected after the procedure. That means one in 368 women undergoing a hysterectomy had cancerous tumors that could have been spread by morcellation, Dr. Wright said. This information is critical because had the surgeons known about the cancer ahead of time, they would not have performed the procedure.

This study is also significant because the risk is more substantial than previous estimates suggested. Previous reports indicated that the unsuspected cancer risk was anywhere between one in 500 to one in 10,000 cases, the New York Times reported. The new data is very close to a recently released analysis from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which estimated that one in 352 women undergoing hysterectomy or fibroid removal have hard-to-detect cancers.

That finding led the FDA to say in April that the procedure should be discouraged and to schedule held hearings to better evaluate morcellation, according to the New York Times.

“If laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in women with unsuspected uterine sarcoma, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s likelihood of long-term survival,” the FDA said in a press release. “For this reason, and because there is no reliable method for predicting whether a woman with fibroids may have a uterine sarcoma, the FDA discourages the use of laparoscopic power morcellation during hysterectomy or myomectomy for uterine fibroids.” disclaimer: This article: Hysterectomy Procedure may Spread Cancer was posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:39 pm at and is filed under Personal Injury Lawsuits.

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