Women often have hysterectomies to remove cancerous organs or just the risk of cancer in their female parts. But there is a subset of patients whose hysterectomies actually spread their cancer throughout their bodies and kill them.
That can occur when a surgeon uses an advanced surgical technique known as morcellation. They remove the uterus through a small incision in a woman's navel. This process significantly reduces patients' recovery times from a month or longer to less than a week. It's a popular option, as approximately 11 percent of the half-million hysterectomies per year in America utilize this technique.
In morcellation, in order to fit the excised organ through a small hole, the uterus and any accompanying growths are pulverized. But if cancer cells are present, this process allows them to spread relentlessly throughout the patient's body. The result can be fatal.
Doctors should run tests on their patients to make sure that they do not already have cancer. Uterine bleeding can indicate the presence of benign fibroids or deadly tumors. but not all uterine cancers are easily distinguishable from less benign diagnoses, and sometimes two conditions coexist within a single patient. Leiomyosarcoma is one of those malignant conditions that can't be screened by preoperative testing.
It's a very scary proposition. In fact, one researcher claims morcellation causes cancer to worsen in as many as one patient in every 400.
Bagging the organs and chopping mechanism could contain the pulverized tissue and any present cancer cells and prevent the disease from spreading to other organs in the body. But this would add more time and training for surgeons and raise the cost of the procedure considerably.
Did your surgical procedure cause your cancer to spread in your body? A surgeon's mistake shouldn't cause a fatal condition to develop or worsen. If it does, you might be able to seek compensation for surgical errors by filing a claim for damages or a malpractice lawsuit.