Power morcellators have been used in laparoscopic surgeries for several decades. In women, two of the most common laparoscopic surgeries performed are called hysterectomies and myomectomies. Quite often, a hysterectomy or myomectomy is suggested by a surgeon as a treatment for uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are growths in the uterus. Doctors split them into three categories:
Fibroids can be so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye, or they can grow large enough to distort the shape of the uterus and cause heavy bleeding and pain. If the fibroid is large enough a doctor will most likely recommend removal. In most cases fibroids are benign, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reported that 1 in 350 women who undergo surgery for uterine fibroids are harboring unsuspected uterine cancer. The most dangerous of these uterine cancers are uterine sarcomas.
Types of Uterine Sarcomas
This is the most common form of uterine sarcoma. These tumors are highly metastatic. If found to be in other areas of the body when diagnosed, there is only a 14% chance of a five-year survival rate.
Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma
This form of cancer begins in a layer of the mucous membrane called the endometrium. Endometrial stromal sarcoma is considered less aggressive than leiomyosarcoma and will not spread as quickly.
Undifferentiated Endometrial Sarcoma
This is considered the “high grade” version of endometrial stromal sarcoma and is much more aggressive.
This form of uterine sarcoma is very rare and very aggressive. Only 35% of patients have a five year survival rate.
When a woman undergoes pre-surgical testing, doctors are not able to determine if the uterine fibroids encapsulate one of these cancers. Power morcellators, which are inserted into the abdominal cavity and used to shed the tissue which is intended for removal, may increase the risk of metastasis because of the dissemination of cells through the body cavity.
New morcellator lawsuits are being filed regularly.