A power morcellator is a medical device that is designed to remove uterine fibroids and assist in the process of a hysterectomy. Unfortunately, a percentage of women who have undergone such procedures might have been experiencing an undiagnosed sarcoma in their fibroids or uterus, which is undetectable by doctors until the procedure takes place.
Based on an FDA analysis, approximately 1 in every 350 women undergoing a myomectomy or hysterectomy to treat fibroids (using a power morcellator) are found to have unsuspected uterine sarcoma. The power morcellator could cause these cancerous tissues to spread, resulting in uterine cancers like endometrial stromal sarcoma or leiomyosarcoma (LMS).
If you are part of the statistic and have experienced such severe complications, you can contact the experienced team at TruLaw to get compensation for your suffering.
Read on to find out more information about how the power morcellator is linked to uterine cancer.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop from the muscular tissue of the uterus. A lot of women will develop these at least once in their lifetime, although there are usually no symptoms. If one does experience any symptoms, however, it will include the following:
- Frequent urination
- Prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Medical or surgical therapy
If treatment of drugs and the surgical removal of fibroids do not resolve the issue, a doctor may recommend that a patient goes in for a hysterectomy. This will be carried out using a power morcellator.
What Is A Power Morcellator?
A power morcellator is a Class II medical device used during laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgeries. It has rapidly spinning tube-shaped blades that tear the tissue into tiny fragments which can then be quickly removed. It is often used during smaller surgeries to remove tissue through smaller incision sites in the abdomen.
As a result, they are regularly used to treat uterine fibroids such as removing the uterus in a hysterectomy or removing uterine fibroids in a myomectomy.
Links With Uterine Cancer
If a laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in women with an undetected uterine sarcoma, there’s a huge risk of the device hitting an undetected tumor and spreading cancerous tissue in the abdominal cavity much quicker than they would have otherwise. This part of the body contains the kidneys, intestines, reproductive, liver, and many other organs.
On average, uterine cancer tends to remain undetected until it has advanced to a later stage. The spreading of this cancerous tissue via a power morcellator could severely impact the patient’s chances of long-term survival. This is because cancer in multiple locations is much more difficult to treat than if it had remained localized.
There is evidence that manufacturers of power morcellator devices including Olympus and Johnson & Johnson may have been aware of the risks of the devices much earlier but chose not to make this information accessible to the public or doctors.
If they had, then there’s a chance many patients who opted for a hysterectomy or myomectomy using a power morcellator might have opted for a lower-risk procedure.
Uterine Cancer Symptoms After Morcellation
If a doctor diagnoses uterine cancer after morcellation, it’s typically either stage III or IV. The latter is a more advanced stage with a poor prognosis. Tumors are classed as stage IV if it’s spread to other parts of the body including the rectum, lymph nodes, and bladder.
Some of the main symptoms that may signal cancer after morcellation include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- A mass
- Swelling in the abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss
- Vomiting or nausea
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
Survival And Spread Of Cancer
Uterine cancer is much easier to treat if it has been localized, meaning that it has not spread away from the uterine. Successful treatment of this cancer becomes a lot more difficult if the cancer is regionalized, or in layman’s terms, if it has spread to other tissue or organs in the abdomen due to the interference of a power morcellator.
Uterine cancer is also difficult to treat if it has become distant, which means that it has spread to the rest of the body.
The link between a power morcellator and uterine cancer is a relatively strong one. While the device cannot directly be labeled as a cause of uterine cancer, it can be deemed at fault for cancerous tissues spreading to other parts of the abdominal cavity. This is because the device rips the tissue into smaller pieces, which could scatter them around the area.