The use of power morcellation to remove fibroids in the uterus can end up spreading bits of hidden cancerous tumors throughout the abdomen, but a new study suggests the likelihood is low. Researchers called the findings, reported in JAMA Oncology, “reassuring.”

The new study was done to determine how many women having fibroids removed — but not the uterus — might have hidden cancer, lead researcher Jason Wright, M.D., chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University in New York City, explained to HealthDay.

His team looked at records for 41,777 U.S. women who had fibroids surgically removed between 2006 and 2012. A power morcellator was used in 3,220 cases.

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Of those women who were treated with a morcellator, three were later found to have uterine cancer — a rate of one in 1,073 patients.

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By comparison, the odds of uterine cancer were one in 528 among women who had fibroids removed without the device.

As expected, the likelihood of a hidden cancer increased with age: Of women younger than 40 who had power morcellation, none were found to have uterine cancer; the rate increased to almost 1 percent among women in their 50s.

“Overall, the risk is low, and I think that’s reassuring,” Wright said. He noted that the results are also in line with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendations for older and younger women.


  1. Wright, Jason D., MD, et al. “Use of Electric Power Morcellation and Prevalance of Underlying Cancer in Women Who Undergo Myomectomy.” JAMA Oncology. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2014.20. February 19, 2015.