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Power Morcellation Cancer Warning One Year Too Late for Doctor

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:Washington, DCDr. Amy Reed, a physician and mother of six had surgery for uterine fibroids with a power morcelletor one year before the FDA first warned about the risk of power morcellators spreading cancer. Dr. Reed died from cancer in May—she was 44 years old.

The power morcellator had scattered malignant cancer cells inside Dr. Reed’s abdomen during surgery, which left her with advanced, Stage 4 cancer. After her surgery, a biopsy found that she had leiomyosarcoma, an aggressive type of cancer, and only then was she and her husband, surgeon Dr. Noorchashm told that a power morcellator was used to slice up her uterus, reported the New York Times (May 24, 2017).

Horrifically ironic, Dr. Reed and Dr. Noorchashm advocated against the power morcellation procedure for four years, which led to the FDA warning in 2014 against the use of laparoscopic morcellators to treat uterine fibroids. One year later, the agency was looking into whether on not Johnson & Johnson – the largest manufacturer of the device—knew about the risk of spreading cancer before pulling its power morcellator off the market. But other manufacturers did not follow suit. The power morcellator is a big seller for several medical device companies: according to the FDA, at least 50,000 women in the US undergo a hysterectomy — removal of the uterus—every year.

Incredibly, the power morcellator was approved by the FDA’s 501(k) fast -track process, meaning it didn’t undergo any human clinical trials, despite that agency estimating that 1 in 350 U.S. women who undergo fibroid procedures each year have a form of cancer called uterine sarcoma.

After going public about the power morcellator’s hazards and calling for a complete ban of the device, Dr. Reed and her husband were ostracized both by the hospital where she had the surgery and many gynecologists who favored the device. According to The Times, when Dr. Reed returned to Brigham and Women’s for a medical procedure, she and Dr. Noorchashm “were stunned to find that the hospital had assigned a guard to inspect their bags and escort them at all times, for security reasons. Dr. Noorchashm called a lawyer. A judge put a stop to the escort, issuing a restraining order against the hospital.”

This action by the hospital and the gynecology profession begs the question: are they receiving perks from power morcellation manufacturers? It wouldn’t be the first time that doctors were bribed by drug companies to increase sales, and even sit on their advisory committees…

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