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Arvada Woman Believes Hysterectomy Procedure Spread Her Hidden Cancer

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ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – A new study is raising more questions about a common procedure done during hysterectomies. There have been growing concerns the procedure may spread hidden cancer and a woman in Arvada believes it happened to her.

“Morcellation” is touted as minimally invasive surgery with a faster recovery, but since April the Food and Drug Administration has discouraged the use of morcellators for hysterectomies.

Debra Valverde wants it banned.

“I would have never, ever, ever done this, ever,” she said.

Debra Valverde (credit:CBS)

Debra Valverde (credit:CBS)

Valverde is angry and scared.

“I’m very scared because I’m not ready to die yet,” she said.

In 2007 Valverde had a hysterectomy, and in 2011 she found a tumor on her scalp. It was leiomyosarcoma, a rare aggressive cancer found in smooth muscle, including uterine tissue. Within a year it was Stage 4.

“I’m still trying to understand it all,” Valverde said.

Valverde’s hysterectomy was done with a device called a power morcellator, which helps perform a hysterectomy in a less invasive way. The device fragments the uterus into smaller pieces so doctors can remove it through tiny incisions.

“Because of that it spread the cancer seeds … and it spread throughout my body,” Valverde said.

Valverde is not alone. The new study shows one in 368 women had uterine cancer at the time they had their procedure.

“I’m that one and I’m important and I deserve a good life,” Valverde said.

At 54 Valverde wants to see her grandchildren grow up and take care of her aging father. But the cancer is infused in her bones.

“When you talk about my children and my father and my friends, it is really, really, really hard, and it is horrible,” she said.

Valverde recently told her story to an FDA panel and begged the members to ban morcellation. She is speaking out to educate women.

“Don’t be so quick to say ‘yes’ to something that sounds so good.”

The company that makes power morcellators halted sales in April.

Two physicians groups have defended the surgical technique but say doctors should advise patients of the risks and alternatives.

Additional Information

Valverde was able to attend the FDA hearing with donations from family and friends. She is hoping to do another fundraiser to attend the 2nd LMS Retreat in October. Make donations at any Bank of the West location under “Debra Valverde Leiomyosarcoma” Account No. 031361881

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