How Many People Have To Die To Show A New Surgery Technique Isn't Worth It?
By Harriet Brown
"...Noorchashm stayed up nights writing strongly worded letters, posting comments on every website remotely relevant to the cause, and having strategic conversations with anyone who would talk to him. The only resulting change he saw was in his own reputation. He'd gone from star surgeon to social leper, shut out of the operating room at his own hospital (though he can't prove it was because of the campaign) and avoided by colleagues and former friends. "They closed ranks on me," he says now, with sadness in his voice. "I broke the white code of silence; I hung out our dirty laundry."..."
Dr. Noorchashm asks: "When new technology makes
medicine cheaper and more convenient, how many
patients have to die to prove it's not worth it?"
Petition by Hooman Noorchashm, MD, PhD:
My wife [Dr. Amy Reed] had a surgical procedure that spread cancerous cells throughout her body. She now has stage 4 cancer. Please sign my petition demanding the FDA stop a procedure that has spread cancer in thousands of women.
My wife Amy is a mother of six, and an accomplished anesthesiologist who helped treat victims of the Boston Marathon bombing last year.
Now, because of a dangerous, but standard, gynecological procedure her early stage cancer was spread -- causing stage 4 cancer.
Last Fall, Amy went in for a routine hysterectomy to treat what we thought were benign fibroids, and had a minimally invasive “morcellation” procedure to remove her uterus. Little did we know that this procedure would end up spreading malignant cancer cells throughout Amy’s belly. What's more is that “morcellation” is totally avoidable and it has devastated thousands of women and families by spreading and upstaging dangerous cancers of the uterus and ovaries.
Now we’re taking a stand in hopes of banning this surgery for good, and saving the lives of countless women and mothers. And the momentum is on our side.
I started a petition on Change.org calling on the FDA to ban this minimally invasive “morcellation” hysterectomy procedure. We’ve got the FDA’s attention, and now we need your help. Will you click here to sign my petition?
Because of the momentum of this petition, numerous hospitals around the country have stopped performing this type of hysterectomy. Last week, a major health insurer -- Blue Cross Blue Shield -- announced that they would no longer cover the procedure. And Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures some of the surgical tools used in this procedure, issued a worldwide voluntary recall of the tools called "power morcellators," saying that they couldn’t guarantee that the procedure was safe for women to undergo.
The reason this surgical procedure is so controversial is that doctors have no reliable way of testing whether patients are at risk of having cancerous cells spread throughout their body during the surgery. That was the case with Amy -- in the process of removing her uterus, undetected cancer cells were spread throughout her abdomen region, and stage 4 cancer developed. The same has happened to scores of other women, globally. Women who went in thinking they were having a “minimally invasive” procedure, left the operating room with an advanced stage of cancer.
Last month, the FDA held public hearings on this surgical procedure. Amy and I traveled down to Washington, D.C., to talk about this petition and to bring Amy’s story to the attention of FDA and congressional regulators. They are currently debating whether to ban this procedure or not, and that’s why I need your help today.
Please click here to sign my petition calling on the FDA to ban minimally invasive “morcellation” hysterectomy surgeries.
I cannot tell you what this means to my wife, to me, and to our family. Together, we can help potentially save the lives of thousands of women moving forward. No other woman should ever have her uterine cancer upstaged to an advanced stage by a gynecologist practicing this totally avoidable procedure they call "morcellation."
Hooman Noorchashm, MD, PhD