Each year, more than 600,000 women in the United States undergo hysterectomies or fibroid removal surgery for primarily benign conditions.
A large number of these procedures is performed using a laparoscopic surgical tool called a morcellator.
Morcellation allows minimally-invasive removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) or fibroids, speeding up recovery times from weeks to days. However, experts now warn that this surgical method can greatly increase the spread of sarcoma, eventually causing morcellation cancer in patients.
Morcellators use narrow, tube-shaped blades to cut parts of the uterus into small pieces, allowing doctors to perform hysterectomies or fibroid removal through a small incision in the navel.
While pre-operative testing often does not detect the presence of cancer, approximately 1 in 350 women who undergo these procedures have a type of soft tissue cancer called uterine sarcoma.
Morcellation cancer usually consists of sarcomas, a rare form of cancer that starts in muscle, fat, bone, and fibrous tissue. This differs from carcinomas, which are cancers starting in the organ linings. Morcellation can accelerate the spread of cancerous or pre-cancerous sarcoma cells to the abdomen. Studies show women who develop morcellation cancer are four times as likely to die than those who did not undergo the procedure.
Although evidence suggests that doctors have known about the risks of morcellation cancer for nearly 20 years, warnings have only surfaced in the last two years. In December of 2013, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology warned about the accelerated cancer risks associated with morcellation.
In April of 2014, the FDA issued a warning discouraging the further use of laparoscopic morcellation for hysterectomies or uterine fibroid removal. The agency advised that 1 in 350 patients could have sarcoma, and that the cancer can be drastically exacerbated by the procedure, shortening the lifespan of patients. Later that month, major hospitals, such as the Cleveland Clinic, announced that they were halting use of morcellators due to the published risks.
On April 30, 2014, Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of more than 75 percent of morcellation machines, announced it was suspending sales of the devices based on the FDA warning, and would alert other health regulators around the world.
Each year in the United States, more than 500,000 women undergo hysterectomies due to fibroids, prolapse, endometriosis, bleeding, or pain. Increasingly, women and doctors have opted for laparoscopic procedures that leave less scaring and require a shorter recovery periods.
These reports show that uterine cancer after hysterectomy by morcellation methods can accelerate so rapidly that women affected are four times more likely to die. Moreover, the average life span of patients after an accidental morcellation of undetected uterine cancer is only 24-36 months.
Research indicates that some women may suffer acceleration of undetected uterine cancer after hysterectomy procedures when the morcellation method is used. The FDA has only recently warned of these cancer-related dangers following morcellation surgery.
Morcellation devices cut the uterus into small parts for easier removal. However, it has been found that a small percentage of women who undergo a hysterectomy have undiagnosed uterine sarcoma, a condition that is greatly exacerbated by the procedure.
Hysterectomy cancer usually presents as a uterine sarcoma, a rare form that accounts for only five percent of uterine cancers. Sarcomas start in the muscle, fat, bone, or fibrous tissue, rather than in organ linings, which is the more common carcinoma-type cancer.
Studies show that hysterectomy cancer from morcellation can accelerate so much that women who have the procedure are four times as likely to die as a result.
Studies show that morcellation procedures for hysterectomies and fibroid removal can dramatically accelerate cancer growth. Women who undergo the procedure with sarcomas are four times as likely to die from cancer than those who do not.
In December of 2013, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology first advised that morcellation hysterectomies may significantly increase the risks of cancer. This April, the FDA warned that sarcoma in one out of every 350 patients could be worsened by laparoscopic hysterectomies and potentially shorten their lifespans.
Hysterectomy cancer usually presents itself as a uterine sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that accounts for only five percent of uterine cancers. Sarcomas start in the muscle, fat, bone, or fibrous tissue, rather than in organ linings, like other carcinoma cancers.
There are several types of uterine sarcoma cancer:
Following the warnings of the FDA and SGO, several top hospitals in the country announced that they will immediately halt morcellation hysterectomies.
Every year, approximately 65,000 women in the United States undergo surgery to remove fibroids, which are benign muscle tumors of the uterus.
This procedure, called a myomectomy, can be performed through either an open incision or a minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery.
Although their cause is unknown, it is estimated half of all women will have uterine fibroids by age 50. Unfortunately, new data shows morcellator devices that are commonly used in laparoscopic myomectomies may significantly accelerate the rate of fibroid surgery cancer in some patients.
Morcellation devices cut fibroids into tiny pieces, allowing easier removal through smaller incisions. However, a small percentage of women who undergo a myomectomy have undiagnosed uterine sarcoma that can be spread and accelerated into fibroid cancer by use of this surgical device.
In fact, reports indicate that fibroid surgery cancer caused by morcellation devices can be spread so quickly that women with sarcoma are four times more likely to die after having the procedure.
Now, lawyers are helping those with cancer, diagnosed or accelerated, after undergoing a laparoscopic procedure file lawsuits. Evidence suggests that the makers of these devices knew of the risks for many years without giving any warning to their consumers.
Some of the cases are already underway in federal courts. Due to the number of claims expected, these cases may be consolidated to a special multi-district litigation court, a move that will benefit individual victims.
Lawyers urge anyone who might have been affected after undergoing a myomectomy or hysterectomy to speak with their doctors as soon as possible, and to learn if they qualify for a lawsuit. Time is limited to file a claim.
If you or a loved one developed uterine cancer after undergoing a laparoscopic myomectomy or fibroid removal, it is important to speak with a lawyer. You may be entitled to substantial compensation. Contact us today.