Women’s History Month: Amy Reed, Carol Fabian

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Women’s History Month

Reed, an anesthesiologist, became the face of a national campaign against power morcellation  after she underwent the procedure at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Her advocacy saved the lives of many women.

I always wanted to be a doctor when I was little. I wanted to go into medicine and be a doctor and fix things, and cure the world

Amy Reed

Weeks after her “minimally invasive” surgery in 2013, Reed learned that the spinning blades of the morcellator contributed to the spread of an undiagnosed aggressive uterine cancer, leiomyosarcoma, throughout her abdominal cavity.

She wasn’t the first. Erika Kaitz, another woman in Boston, had died from disseminated cancer at the same hospital in 2013. Reed and her husband, Hooman Noorchashm, were the first to publicly make the connection. Hundreds of women have since come forward claiming to have been similarly harmed.

Reed died May 24, 2017, less than four years after her surgery. She was 44. Reed and Noorchashm’s relentless campaign sparked multiple investigations, and changed the standard of care in minimally invasive gynecology.

Reed’s legacy continues to influence the regulation of surgical medical devices and reshape the way gynecologists assess cancer risk and prevalence. The Cancer Letter’s award-winning coverage of her war against morcellation tracks each development—changes in FDA’s guidances, device recalls, litigation, and Congressional hearings (The Cancer LetterHow Medical Devices Do Harm, 2014-2017).

More studies over the years show how cancers are frequently missed prior to routine minimally invasive procedures—signaling a need for more robust preoperative work-up to identify at-risk women, as well as more rigorous evaluation of innovative surgical procedures, including robotic surgery.

The Cancer Letter’s investigation continues (When Surgical Innovation Kills, 2018-present).


Recent contributions


This column in The Cancer Letter features the latest posts to the Cancer History Project by our growing list of contributors.

Access to the Cancer History Project is open to the public at CancerHistoryProject.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at @CancerHistProj.


Is your institution a contributor to the Cancer History Project? Would you like us to tell you about the project and how you can get involved?

To apply to become a contributor, please contact admin@cancerhistoryproject.com.

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