Hooman Noorchashm, the Boston doctor who became a patient advocate after a surgical tool caused the worsening of his physician wife Amy Reed’s uterine cancer, has taken up the fight against a contraceptive device blamed for harming women.
Noorchashm became an outspoken advocate against power morcellators, surgical tools used to perform hysterectomies and myomectomies (uterine fibroid removal). The devices are fitted with a tube-like blade that minces entire uteruses or uterine growths inside the uterine cavity and removes them through a small incision in the abdomen.
Hysterectomies and myomectomies using power morcellators have been favored over open surgeries by many doctors because the devices are less invasive, offer shorter recovery time, and leave less scar tissue.
What Noorchashm and his wife have painfully brought to light is that power morcellation can spew bits of previously undetected cancerous tissue within the abdominal cavity, seeding new cancer growth and worsening the odds of survival. Some types of uterine cancer, such as uterine sarcoma, are difficult to detect without first removing the tissue.
Reed is currently fighting for her life. Her uterine sarcoma has spread within her body and her prognosis is grim. She and Noorchashm shared their concerns regarding cancer spread with power morcellation with friends, colleagues, congressmen, and the federal government, ultimately promoting a probe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency placed a black box warning on power morcellators and advised doctors not to use the tools on most women due to the risk of cancer spread.
Noorchashm’s latest fight is not as personal, but it does highlight another situation that he calls a “profound problem. The corporate side of medicine gets in the way of patient care.” Those statements were made about the nonsurgical permanent birth control method, Essure. The device, made by Bayer Healthcare, has been linked to tens of thousands of complications including perforation of the fallopian tube or uterine wall, and embedment in other organs, leading to hysterectomy or surgical removal.