Edited By Kevin Connolly
Published: August 14, 2017
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Physician’s assistant and patient advocate Sarah Salem-Robinson is my guest on this episode of the Drugwatch Podcast. On this episode, we discuss Salem-Robinson’s harrowing health journey after she underwent minimally invasive surgery with a surgical tool called a power morcellator.

Her first encounter with a power morcellator was as an OB/GYN physician’s assistant in California. She assisted in the operating room during a hysterectomy and was disturbed when she saw the uterus shredded and sucked out through a tube.

“I watched and I had anxiety and I was shocked at first,” Salem-Robinson told Drugwatch. “But I could also feel the elation in the OR at the time, especially from the GYN surgeon that I worked for because he had a new tool on hand.”

While power morcellators promise quicker 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.

Not long after her operating room introduction with the morcellator, Salem-Robinson’s 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 cancer. Overall, only about 40 percent of women survive about five years with the disease.

At stage one, 60 to 80 percent may survive five years, according to Salem-Robinson. After a morcellation, that number drops to 10 percent.

On this episode, Salem-Robinson takes us through her cancer treatment process and the health problems she still faces today because of her morcellation surgery.

The experience led her to become an advocate and start a campaign against morcellation. She also has a petition to make medical devices safer for all Americans.