Can morecellation surgery spread cancer?

The Wall Street Journal just published an article, “Doctor’s War Against a Common Surgery, Morcellation.” What came to light in the article is that one of the most common hysterectomy procedures, in relatively rare cases, may actually spread undetected cancer in some patients. The procedure is called morcellation.

Morcellation surgery allows surgeons to remove large masses of tissue during laparoscopic surgery, allowing for less invasive surgery, leaving smaller scars and presumably allowing a quicker recovery time. The surgery is done using medical devices designed especially for morcellation .

The WSJ article highlighted the campaign by Dr. Hoorman Noorchashm, whose wife (also a physician) — Dr. Amy Reed — is battling an advanced cancer after a routine laparoscopic hysterectomy for a diagnosis of fibroids. The morcellation procedure, in Dr. Reed’s case, appears to have spread a rare and undetected cancer, leiomyosarcoma. When fibroids or other tissue is cut into small pieces, there is a risk that previously undetected malignant cells can be left in the abdomen can spread. An article on NEJM Journal Watch quotes one study:

Two of seven patients with undiagnosed stage I uterine leiomyosarcoma and one of four with undiagnosed stage I smooth muscle tumors had disseminated intraperitoneal disease after morcellation.

Dr. Noorchashm’s campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal, takes on the “medical establishment” and takes to task hospitals and physicians who do not provide informed consent of the potential spread of cancer.

Until there is a reliable way to identify patients with uterine sarcoma before surgery, they may not be enough data to allow patients predict benefit-to-harm of the surgery.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured by medical malpractice due to the negligence of another. For more information on medical malpractice and surgical malpractice, please contact us.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.

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