The Boston man whose campaign to end power morcellator surgery has spiraled across the U.S. over the past year took the mic this week to raise awareness on the issue.
This time, it’s an editorial via The Cancer Letter that warns women about laparoscopic hysterectomy and fibroid removal procedures that incorporate the device. Among other things, Hooman Noorchashm says in the article on September 12th that approximately 350-500 women with symptomatic fibroids have undiagnosed uterine cancer hidden in what doctors may have dismissed as benign tumors. Use of a power morcellator, which is designed to more easily cut up uterine tissue so it can be easily extracted via a tiny incision, can spread the malignant cells outside the uterus and into other parts of the peritoneal cavity, according to Noorchashm. He goes on to estimate that nearly 100,000 uterine morcellation procedures are performed each year.
“Over the course of twenty years hundreds, if not thousands, of women worldwide have been irreversibly harmed or killed by gynecological morcellation resulting in cancer upstaging,” the article states.
Noorchashm’s recent note follows a threatening letter from the Karl Storz Group, in which the company threatens to file a power morcellator lawsuit that accuses him of allegedly “defaming” its Rotocut device in the press. The German manufacturer blames the Boston man for negative publicity surroundings its products and management skills, and threatens to take legal action if that behavior continues. The letter was issued August 22nd by a member of the company’s global executive committee, to which Noorchashm said he has no plans to stop his efforts to ban power morcellator use. These include but are not limited to a Change.org petition that included over 84,900 virtual signatures on September 17th.
Over the past several months, the medical community has begun to take notice of issues surrounding uterine morcellation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health alert about this type of procedure in April 2014 that warned women about a possible association with the spread of uterine cancer.
Following the alert, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit issued a sales suspension of its power morcellators until the FDA could fully review their safety. That decision was followed up in July with a worldwide market withdrawal of the devices.