Local health system changing hysterectomy procedure for cancer patients

Updated: 03/24/2014 5:21 PM
Created: 03/24/2014 5:13 PM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

A local woman, who is battling stage four cancer, has a message for all the women in your family. She wants you to know about the nightmare she is now living after having a hysterectomy. She found out she had cancer after the procedure. 

Doctors at UR Medicine are now changing the way they do hysterectomies for some cancer patients. They are adding safe guards, so the cancer doesn’t spread. Doctors will now use a special medical bag to capture tissue they remove.

Robert Panzer, UR Medicine, said, There is a part of that procedure that is used to remove the uterus and the fibroids, that often is the reason for the hysterectomy, by breaking the fibroid up into pieces, and that procedure can, it turns out can take a hidden cancer and spread it to the area around the surgery.”

News10NBC spoke with a woman, who is a daughter, a wife and a mother of a three-year-old little girl. Right now, she has stage four cancer, something that happened because of a hysterectomy. The Fairport woman said if she knew then what she knows now, she would have never made the same decisions. 

Brenda Leuzzi said, “I could have had a stage one cancer. It is a tough thing to deal with. From going to what I could have been, to what I am now.”

Brenda Leuzzi's tough journey began a few years ago at just 41-years-old.

Leuzzi said, “I originally started having hemorrhaging problems through fibroids and I just started hemorrhaging so much I couldn't live like that.”

So Leuzzi and her doctor decided to do a hysterectomy. Right after, she felt great. But two weeks later, doctors called her with heartbreaking news that those fibroids had cancerous cells.

Leuzzi said, “By doing that procedure it ended up spreading it. It is in my abdominal wall and also my lungs.”

Leuzzi says her doctors told her if she never had the surgery, she would have stage one cancer and it would have been much more manageable.

Leuzzi said, “I do very invasive chemo, almost four and a half days. I go up to Roswell and I have a very rare form, it is a tough treatment. When I come home, I am sick for about a week.”

While she fights every day for her life and to stay with her family, she wants other women to know UR Medicine is going in the right direction with new safe guards, like the medical bag. If it were up to Leuzzi, she would tell everyone to only do a hysterectomy if doctors are doing a fully open one.

Leuzzi said, “It is not far enough. If that bag rips, you already spread it. If you are at stages I’m at, fighting for your life, it only takes one cell.”

Recently, Leuzzi was told the chemo seems to be working.

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