Most people see their doctor, receive a diagnosis and proceed to treatment without considering getting a second opinion by a specialist. With mesothelioma, however, you will definitely need to consider getting a second opinion — even before starting treatment for the disease.
Mesothelioma Second Opinions
Mesothelioma and the stages of this disease are often misdiagnosed by doctors who have little experience with mesothelioma. They may not recognize the presence of mesothelioma at all, or they may understand that it is mesothelioma but not know the correct ways to treat the various stages of this disease. This can cause a delay in receiving the proper treatment for your condition. It can also mean that you won’t have the opportunity to enroll in a clinical trial on mesothelioma, which could save your life.
Any time you are diagnosed with a rare condition, such as mesothelioma, a second opinion is always valuable. Mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed by cancer doctors who rarely encounter this type of cancer. Ideally, the second opinion should come from a doctor that is trained in identifying and treating mesothelioma, as treatment methods vary according to the type of mesothelioma you have and the stage of the disease.
The misdiagnosis of mesothelioma is a relatively common occurrence and may reduce your chances of getting prompt treatment that can improve your chances of survival. If you know you have been exposed to asbestos and are diagnosed with cancer of the abdomen, lungs, testes or pericardium, seek out a mesothelioma specialist for a second opinion. This second opinion could save your life.
If you were to just see a heart or lung specialist, they may not expect that your symptoms of night sweats, chest pain and shortness of breath could be due to mesothelioma. If they decide it is cancer, they often diagnose the cancer as adenocarcinoma, which is another type of lung cancer that is treated differently from mesothelioma.
Doctors can also misinterpret your symptoms entirely and believe that you just have asthma or acute pneumonia. It is only after months of not getting better that the doctor will likely begin to suspect that cancer may be a possibility. This is a serious delay of proper treatment that could have saved your life.
If the mesothelioma is in your abdominal cavity (peritoneal mesothelioma), the doctor may believe that you have some kind of benign digestive tract illness, such as irritable bowel syndrome or peptic acid disease. Without a second opinion, you may be treated for these conditions and will not be receiving potentially life-sparing treatment you really need.
Why You Should Get a Second Opinion
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease that you suspect is not correct, there are many reasons why getting a second opinion might be in your best interest.
Statistically, sixty percent of second opinions will lead you to a different treatment and a better prognosis.
Getting a second opinion by a mesothelioma specialist may open the door to being involved in a clinical trial that offers the latest in mesothelioma treatment. You should never deny yourself the chance of a second opinion, especially with a disease as severe as mesothelioma.
Additionally, getting a second opinion can actually mean the difference between life and death. When you get a diagnosis that is completely correct, you can then embark on the most appropriate treatment for your type of cancer. More options are available when the diagnosis is accurate and treatment is started as early as possible in the course of the disease.
When you get a second opinion, you have the confidence of knowing that your diagnosis is correct and that you are on the right treatment plan. A second opinion by a doctor who is familiar with mesothelioma can lead you to getting the latest in mesothelioma treatment and you might find one that can keep you alive for a longer period of time.
By requesting a second opinion, you are more in charge of your health. If you choose to see a mesothelioma specialist for your second opinion, you could live for several more years after the proper treatment instead of a few months on the wrong treatment — or no treatment at all.
Benefits of Receiving a Second Opinion
Even though you may be seeing a cancer specialist, it doesn’t mean that the doctor has seen many cases of mesothelioma. Only a select few cancer specialists in the country have seen various cases of mesothelioma and this is the type of doctor you should seek out.
One thing that may be a benefit in seeking a second opinion is that you can more confidently decide what kind of surgery you would like to have. There are two major surgeries for patients with pleural mesothelioma (the most common type of the disease). These include the pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) and the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). Your doctor may be in favor of one of these procedures, where another opinion would open you up to the chance of deciding that the other procedure is actually the right one for you.
There is great debate surrounding which procedure is best to treat mesothelioma. Seeking a second opinion by a doctor can allow you to fully understand your options and put the decision of which surgical procedure is best for you back into your hands. This decision should be made as soon as possible after you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. You should seek out a second opinion on your condition as soon as you suspect you have this type of cancer.
How to Get a Second Opinion
You should know first that it is not disrespectful to your doctor to get a second opinion, especially if you have been given the diagnosis of mesothelioma. This is a rare disease that few doctors have expertise in. Even if you have been seeing a doctor that you trust, you should ask your doctor if they know of someone who can give you a second opinion.
If your doctor doesn’t agree that you need a second opinion, you should look on the Internet or in your insurance handbook for a doctor who is covered under your insurance and who has experience in treating mesothelioma. There are several online sources that list the best doctors in the country that specialize in the management of mesothelioma.