Amy Reed, a 40-year-old anesthesiologist from Boston, was the first woman to report “upstaged cancer” caused by a morcellation hysterectomy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in October 2013. Since then, a number of women have filed reports with the FDA about morcellation and uterine cancer or filed morcellator cancer lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson (J&J) and other manufacturers.
Power morcellators are minimally invasive tools that mince the uterus and fibroids into small fragments and remove them through a tiny incision. The device can simultaneously blast cancerous cells into the abdomen and uterus and accelerate the spread of cancer.
Prior to her hysterectomy, Amy had undiagnosed Stage 1 leiomyosarcoma (LMS). The morcellation procedure increased Amy’s sarcoma to Stage 4 and decreased her lifespan. The life expectancy for Stage 4 LMS is only about two years.
A July 2014 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that one in 386 women undergoing a hysterectomy or myomectomy using morcellation has a risk of undiagnosed uterine cancer that could spread during morcellation. The study prompted Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to issue a worldwide withdraw of its Ethicon morcellators. J&J halted sales in April 2014 after the FDA discouraged the use of power morcellators due to the risk cancer spreading during the process.
Amy Reed has started a crusade to ban morcellators and posted a petition on change.org. She has over 14,000 signatures to date.