Columbia University doctors have found new evidence to support the theory that fibroid removals aided by a power morcellator may lead to the spread of certain uterine cancers, especially in younger women, the Washington Post reports.

According to research published on July 22nd, approximately 1 in 370 women who undergoes a laparoscopic hysterectomy has previously undetected uterine cancer cells, which may not be discovered until after fibroids are removed and biopsied. Leaders of the new study, which was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, say its results add to the federal government’s concerns about the device.

“This is an answer to some of those criticisms and might mitigate the concerns of those who disagree with the FDA figures,” said one of the study’s lead authors, and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Columbia Study Echoes FDA Alert about Uterine Sarcoma Risk

Three months earlier, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health alert about risks that may be associated with power morcellation, which may result in harm to women undergoing the procedure, and ultimately diminish their chances of long-term survival. The federal agency’s warning on April 17, 2014 advised doctors against using the devices until more information on the issue had been collected. Since then, a number of power morcellator lawsuit claims have been filed in the U.S.

“With the FDA figures, they used older studies that just looked at pa­thol­ogy reports for women who underwent hysterectomies — this is a study of recent patients, and also these are numbers specific to women who actually underwent an electric power morcellation,” added the study’s author.

To identify the frequency of power morcellator risks, Columbia researchers looked at the outcomes of 36,000 women who underwent uterine morcellation procedures between 2006 and 2012. Information was obtained from a large insurance database that included surgeries at 500 U.S. hospitals during that time period, according to the Post, and found that 99 women—or, 1 out of every 368 patients—had undetected uterine cancer.

Research also found that 32 percent of morcellation patients were younger than 50, which refutes claims from doctors who support use of the devices that the risk of hidden cancer is low in younger patients.

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Published July 23, 2014 by