People usually hear that smoking, carcinogens, gene mutations and other similar things cause cancer. But did you know that a certain surgical tool could also cause it?
The tool is called a power morcellator. It is generally used in hysterectomies to make cuts in the uterus.
Fox explains, “The tool, used since the 1990s in many hysterectomies, can stir up aggressive cancers, they said. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Temple University Hospital and others quickly altered their procedures for the tool's use. The Food and Drug Administration has begun a probe of its risks. Yet there were hints of the tool's potentially fatal flaw going back to its early years. Doctors use the device, called a power morcellator, through tiny incisions to cut into, or ‘morcellate,’ the uterus and remove it. The procedure is popular because it allows speedier recovery than open surgery and is easier to perform than many alternatives.”
Doctors began noticing as early as the late nineteen nineties that the cuts left behind tissue fragments, which could cause problems, but despite this observation they continued to use them. “Data as early as 2003 suggested that, if those bits were malignant, they could seed rapid cancer growth. Although some morcellator makers have long recommended containing risky tissue in a surgical bag—standard practice in many specialties—gynecologists rarely used bags, considering the risk too low and their use too cumbersome,” according to Fox.
The physician who leads the gynecology center at Mayo Clinic told Fox, “I don't think there is an acceptable safe morcellator without systems to contain tissue. That risk seems just out of bounds."