Sarah Salem-Robinson knew the alleged risks of using a power morcellator in fibroid removal surgeries.

But that didn’t stop the gynecologist’s assistant in California from undergoing a procedure that employed the device anyway, at the insistence of doctors that she had no uterine cancer, the Washington Post reports.

According to an article on July 9th, the Los Altos resident found out two weeks after the operation that one of her fibroids was uterine leiomyosarcoma, a rare and potentially-fatal form of cancer that has been suggested to spread via power morcellator in certain laparoscopic and gynecologic procedures.

Her situation may have been avoided, though. Before going into her fibroid removal surgery in May 2012, the woman reportedly voiced concerns that her fibroids were malignant, and the cancer cells could disseminate through her abdominal cavity if this particular surgical device was used.

She then told doctors she wanted a non-laparoscopic hysterectomy instead. “I’ve seen a morcellator work. I’ve seen it splatter,” she said. “I know it’s not the way to operate on tumors.”

In the end, she agreed to the procedures, after doctors insisted no cancers cells were present.

FDA Panel to Convene at Power Morcellator Meeting in July

Salem-Robinson is now on disability, according to the Post, and has made it her mission to raise awareness about risks associated with power morcellators. This crusade has taken hold over the past few months, largely in part due to a Change.org petition to end uterine morcellation in the U.S. The petition, which included 11,829 signatures as of July 10, was launched by a Boston man whose wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 uterine cancer after undergoing a morcellator-aided procedure.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a public health warning about power morcellators on April 17, 2014. Among other things, the federal alert discouraged doctors from employing the devices in laparoscopic surgeries, and notified the public that the FDA’s Obstetrics & Gynecology Devices Panel would meet later that summer to discuss the issue further. The Panel was scheduled to convene on July 10th and 11th, according to the alert.

As women allegedly injured by power morcellators continue to allege life-threatening forms of uterine cancer, hospitals including the Cleveland Clinic stopped using the devices. A gynecologist at the medical center was quoted in the Post as saying, “We need to educate patients of the risks and offer alternatives to this technique.”

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Published July 10, 2014 by