In an April 2014 press release, the FDA announced that use of the gynecological tool laparoscopic power morcellation when removing the uterus or uterine fibroids spreads undetected cancer, and yet some gynecologists are still using this potentially life-threatening device. The FDA’s warning on the device which helps slice abdominal tissue into small sections that can be extracted, was clear:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration discouraged the use of laparoscopic power morcellation for the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or uterine fibroids (myomectomy) in women because, based on an analysis of currently available data, it poses a risk of spreading unsuspected cancerous tissue, notably uterine sarcomas, beyond the uterus.”
In lieu of the FDA’s announcement, many hospitals began to limit the tool’s usage and insurance companies stopped providing medical coverage for such procedures. Unfortunately, there are some gynecologists who are against the FDA’s finding and still use the tool, claiming the FDA’s revelation was exaggerated. One doctor, Jeffrey Thurston who was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal , shared his thoughts on the FDA releasing this health information, saying rather boldly, “It is none of their business.” Dr. Thurston has practiced gynecology for three decades and said he has used the morcellator on 80 percent of the surgeries he has performed. Other gynecologists have continued using the tool as well but offered to inform patients of the risk in a consent form they must sign.
As the FDA and medical field continue to dispute whether or not morcellators are harmful during fibroid removal and hysterectomy surgeries, women have minimal alternatives., with the best defense being requesting cancer screenings before undergoing any abdominal procedures.
For more information on cancer and survivors’ experiences with the disease, read Madame Noire’s Survivor Series.