Guest Blog: Gynecologic Cancer Awareness - Power Morcellator

Wednesday 8 October 2014

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month, which presents a good opportunity for women to educate themselves about the subject. Although most women know about the importance of regular pap smears to detect cervical cancer and mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer, they may not know of the other ways they can protect themselves against gynecological cancers.

Gynecologic Cancers
The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that is called cancer can occur in any organ of the body. In women, these masses may grow in the reproductive organs, such as the cervix, the vagina, the uterus or the ovaries. Because the abnormal growths are buried deep within the body, these cancers may have no early symptoms. Unfortunately, this feature can make these cancers deadly for women. To maintain good health, women should see their gynecologists regularly and report any unusual symptoms immediately.

Causes of Gynecologic Cancers
Many medical researchers believe there may be a strong genetic component to the incidence of gynecologic cancers. However, other factors, such as smoking, environmental exposure, human papillomavirus exposure and aging, also play a part.

The Risks of Power Morcellation
Because gynecologic cancers may not have any noticeable symptoms, women may be unaware they have it. Unfortunately, this lack of knowledge can put them at heightened risk when they undergo gynecological procedures. An instrument called a power morcellator is sometimes used during laparoscopic procedures such as hysterectomy and removal of fibroid tumors. This device works by breaking up tissue into smaller pieces so that they can be easily removed through the small laparoscopic incision. However, when cancer is present, these cells can be cut up and dispersed more widely throughout the body, making treatment more difficult or even impossible. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has issued a safety communication discouraging the use of power morcellators during laparoscopic procedures because of this risk for spreading unsuspected cancers.

What Women Can Do To Reduce Their Risk
Women can protect themselves from inadvertently spreading gynecologic cancer through the use of power morcellators by discussing the issue with their physicians. Ask if the device will be used during the procedure, and if other types of instruments can be used. If you have already undergone procedures that used the morcellator, see your gynecologist to have regular tests and examinations to ensure that abnormal growths are not present. Be alert to any unusual symptoms, and notify your doctor if anything seems wrong.

By being aware of the use of power morcellators, monitoring your body carefully, and seeing your gynecologist for regular checkups, you can reduce your risk for gynecologic cancers.

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.