FDA warns common uterine fibroid surgeries could spread cancer tissue

The Federal Drug Administration is warning against the use of a certain cutting tool used in common uterine fibroid tissue surgeries because of the possibility of spreading previously undetected cancerous tissue.

The FDA is warning surgeons away from using a laparoscopic power morcellation during surgical procedures, hysterectomy and myomectomy, done to remove uterine fibroids, according to a press release.

Uterine fibroids are fairly common non-cancerous growths that can develop in the uterus of most women at some point in their lives. They usually aren't problematic, but can be removed if the fibroids cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure as well as constant urination.

Surgeons make a small incision in the abdomen and use the morcellation tool to cut up the fibroids for easy removal. But the FDA has realized that about 1 in 350 women have undetected uterine sarcoma, which is a type of uterine cancer. If the power morcellation is used, then the cancerous tissue could potentially spread to both the pelvis and abdomen.

William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Heath, said, "The FDA's primary concern as we consider the continued use of these devices is the safety and well-being of patients." Maisel added, "There is no reliable way to determine if a uterine fibroid is cancerous prior to removal."

Women can still get a hysterectomy or myomectomy without the needed use of the power morcellation. There are even non-surgical methods available.

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