Hysterectomy? Read This First

| August 12, 2014 | 2 Comments

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Terry Winogrodzki had a hysterectomy at the age of 40, in 2011. The surgery went well, with no complications—or so she thought. It was a few years later when what she calls her “morcellation nightmare” began.

A follow-up with her gynecologist revealed that she had actually had uterine cancer at the time of her hysterectomy, and that the procedure (laparoscopic supracervical hysterectomy), which calls for several incisions to the uterus before its removal but which leaves the cervix and ovaries intact, could have actually spread the cancer cells.  When she read about other women who had the same surgery using the “power morcellator” based on pre-surgery testing that indicated they were benign or safe, but went on to experience a similar nightmare, she decided to share her story to help spread awareness.

There has been a voluntary recall by Johnson & Johnson of the power morcellators used in the laparascopic hysterectomy2hysterectomies because of the recognized risk of spreading cancer—cancer that might not be detected at the time of the surgery, but which still exists. If you are thinking about this kind of surgery, get informed and make sure that you know the risks involved. Here’s some information from the American Recall Center:

What is a Power Morcellator? A device used in hysterectomies to cut tissue into small pieces to be removed from the body. However, uterine cancers sometimes go undetected prior to the procedure. In these cases, the morcellator dices up and spreads unsuspected cancer inside the woman’s body.

  • Hysterectomy is the second most common surgery among women in the United States

  • By age 70, one out of three American women will have had a hysterectomy

  • 90% of these surgeries are done to remove fibroids (non-cancerous tumors found in the uterus)

  • The average life span following accidental morcellation of sarcoma is only 24-36 months

  • Only 15% of women who have leiomyosarcoma (LMS) that has spread (stage 4) will be alive after 5 years

  • Women with sarcoma who are morcellated are about 4 times more likely to die from sarcoma than if they had not been morcellated

 

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Written by the dedicated, hard-working Women's Adventure staff and their very generous team of volunteer writers. Want to lend a hand at making this splendid magazine even more splendid? Contact us at digital.diva@womensadventuremagazine.com and let us know!

Comments (2)

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  1. Sydney Youngerman-Cole says:

    This article doesn’t say how rare uterine sarcoma are or whether the hysterectomies were done knowing a sarcoma was present. Also didn’t address how often or what per centre of sarcoma are “accidentally” morcellated.

  2. Amy says:

    Uterine sarcomas are rare (<5% of all uterine cancers are sarcomas). Risk factors include African-American heritage, prior exposure to radiation and certain genetic mutations. Uterine sarcomas usually arise from the smooth muscle in the uterine wall, so they are the malignant counterpart to benign smooth muscle tumors of the uterus ("fibroids"). As opposed to fibroids, which can be multiple, sarcomas typically are solitary masses with clinical and radiographic features that are often different from fibroids. That said, there are always exceptions, and low grade tumors can look very innocuous until they are removed and examined under a microscope, so the best advice is to inform yourself of the risks and talk to your gynecologist if you are thinking of having a laparoscopic hysterectomy.

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