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Failure to diagnose cancer before morcellation can be devastating

Hundreds of thousands of women will need to have myomectomies and hysterectomies, but the method used to complete these procedures can have a lasting effect on the woman's health. When most people think about these surgeries, they think of lengthy recovery times; however, some women were surprised to learn that laparoscopic surgery is sometimes possible for these procedures. That possibility is touted to have a shorter recovery time. Our readers in Kentucky might find it interesting to know that those laparoscopic procedures are now being heavily scrutinized.

The laparoscopic procedure is done using an electric morcellator. This device is a rotary device that has a vacuum attached. As the rotary blade spins, it slices the fibroids and other tissues for removal. The problem with the spinning blade is that it throws cellular particles around the abdomen. If those particles are cancerous, the cancer isn't contained to the mass any longer. Instead, it is spread throughout the abdomen and possibly the pelvic cavity.

Some women who don't have a history of cancer are being diagnosed with cancer after having a morcellation procedure done. In some cases, such as uterine leiomyosarcoma, the cancer is aggressive, so when those cancerous cells seed, it is a deadly diagnosis.

The use of morcellators is considered by some to be a reasonable risk that can be taken. There are some instances in which a woman isn't diagnosed with a malignant uterine mass until after the morcellation procedure is done. In those cases, the spread of cancer might occur. That lack of diagnosis prior to the laparoscopic procedure can lead to the cancer seeding, which requires harsh treatments and can lead to death. Those women or their family members might ultimately opt to seek compensation for that failure to diagnose cancer prior to the morcellation procedure.

Source: Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, "Are Routine, Minimally Invasive Surgeries for Fibroids Safe?" Sarah Salem-Robinson, PA-C, Dec. 29, 2014

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