Sarah’s Interview on Drug Watch: https://www.drugwatch.com/contributors/sarah-salem-robinson/
Sarah Salem-Robinson is a Physician Assistant. As many thousands of women in the last two decades before her, she experienced a harrowing health journey with heavy periods and pelvic pain which lead to a “minimally invasive” hysterectomy with the use of a surgical power morcellator device.
Unfortunately, Sarah’s GYN surgeon at Kaiser, the clinic where she worked, refused her request of an open laparotomy surgery for what he insisted were, “benign” fibroids.
Sarah’s first encounter with the power morcellator was as an OB/GYN Physician’s Assistant in Northern California. She assisted in the operating room during a hysterectomy and was disturbed to see a uterus shredded and sucked out through a small tube. She was shocked and watched with anxiety, but she could also feel the elation in the OR at the time, especially from the GYN surgeon because he had a new innovative tool.
While power morcellators promise quicker surgical incision healing times and less risk of complications such as bleeding and infection, they also come with a much more dangerous risk — the risk of spreading undiagnosed uterine cancer.
Sarah’s GYN doctors recommended the device for her fibroid removal. They assured her she was cancer free and she would be fine. Then, a week after her surgery, doctors told her she had leiomyosarcoma, an aggressive uterine sarcoma. At stage one, 60 to 80 percent may survive five years. After a surgery with power morcellation, that number drops to a mere 10-15 percent. As a result of the power morcellator use, instead of a cure by open laparotomy, the morcellator spread Sarah’s undiagnosed leiomyosarcoma cancer. She is currently a stage 4 LMS patient fighting for survival.
This life-altering experience led Sarah Salem-Robinson to advocate and bring awareness to women undergoing hysterectomies. At Kaiser, she approached the chief of staff (also a GYN) to ban morcellation during hysterectomies so that no further women would undergo the upstaging of undiagnosed cancer. However, Sarah soon learned that Kaiser purchased two new morcellators directly after her LMS diagnoses. Sarah began a public Facebook to document this on-going fight, campaign against morcellation at https://www.facebook.com/campaignagainstmorcellation/
For more information on uterine morcellation and leiomyosarcoma, see LMS Boot Camp #7