Pulse on Health: Something most women need to know

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Every woman and her loved ones should know about this issue.

The Food and Drug Administration warned earlier this year that a device used to surgically remove the uterus or uterine fibroids risks spreading as-yet undetected cancerous tissue.

Most women, the FDA says, will develop fibroids at some point in life. Many will need myomectomy to remove fibroids, or a hysterectomy.

But the tool often employed, called a laparoscopic power morcellator, uses rotating blades to cut the fibrous tissues so they can be removed.

Go ahead and roll the words "power morcellator" around on your tongue. Blurt out a few juvenile jokes betwixt your group of friends or family members. Hopefully that can set the stage to talk about normally taboo subject matter.


Once each of you says "power morcellator" out loud, you ought to be able to talk about human anatomy, and this very-serious topic, more openly.

The FDA's worry is that undiagnosed cancerous tissue and cells might get left inside the body and actually spread around when the blades cut tissues and some small pieces fall away and lodge inside the body. There, they might more easily grow, spread and raise the risk of becoming a widespread and deadly cancerous presence.

Mayo Clinic told the Post-Bulletin last week that surgeons here in Rochester balance many considerations when they advise each patient about surgical options.

Mayo has not mandated a strict ban on the use of morcellators during surgery, the clinic said in a statement.

The FDA, likewise, did not ban use of the tools. Rather, it has warned about the risk.

"We offer many surgical techniques that still provide a minimally invasive approach, as well as alternatives to surgery, that provide excellent symptom relief," Mayo's statement says. "For the rare patient in whom the benefits of morcellation are judged to outweigh the risks, patients are fully informed of potential risks, including premature death from disseminated cancer."

If this relatively routine procedure is on the docket for your family, it's important to weigh this important knowledge thoroughly.

Hopefully a discussion of benefits versus harm with your loved ones can help you make a better decision based on input from your health provider.

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