Mesothelioma Second Opinions

Many patients receive a mesothelioma misdiagnosis and proceed to treatment without getting a second opinion. Getting a mesothelioma second opinion after a diagnosis is important because it can confirm what treatment options are available and ensure that you feel comfortable with your doctor.

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Why Get a Mesothelioma Second Opinion?

You should get a second opinion because mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose. Getting the opinion of more than one specialist will help ensure you get the right treatment.

You should consider getting a second opinion if you:

  • Don’t feel 100% comfortable with your doctor
  • Need peace of mind about your diagnosis
  • Are looking for more treatment options
  • Have been told there’s little to no hope
  • Want to take control of your diagnosis

The last point is one of the most important.

“Having additional information about your diagnosis and treatment can only be helpful. Most importantly, as a patient, it is your right to seek a medical second opinion. You are your own best advocate."
– Jonathan Schaffer, Cleveland Clinic

If you need a mesothelioma second opinion by a specialist, use our Doctor Match program.

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Can a Mesothelioma Second Opinion Change My Treatment Options?

Yes, there are many ways a second opinion can change your treatment options. For example, the doctor may find that your disease is less advanced than previously thought. This could make mesothelioma surgery a viable treatment option and possibly help extend your life expectancy.

Anytime someone has a rare condition such as mesothelioma, a second opinion is valuable.

Did you know?

Organizations like the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend getting a second opinion if you have a rare cancer. Mesothelioma is one of the rarest cancers affecting U.S. veterans. Getting a second or even third opinion for a rare cancer can reduce the chances of misdiagnosis.

Mesothelioma specialists don't always agree on the best way to treat a patient. Because mesothelioma is so rare, treatment is changing all the time. Having a team of specialists work together to determine your diagnosis can help confirm your eligibility for certain procedures.

For instance, it might take more than one doctor to decide whether a life-prolonging surgery is right for you.

Mesothelioma Misdiagnosis

A young male doctor (left) talks to an older male patient (right)

Even experienced heart and lung specialists may not expect that your symptoms could be caused by mesothelioma.

Pleural mesothelioma is sometimes misdiagnosed as adenocarcinoma. This is a more common type of lung cancer with cells that look similar to mesothelioma.

Oncologists who rarely encounter mesothelioma may also misdiagnose a patient's cancer stage or cell type. This is why it's important to seek a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist.

It's also possible that your doctor could misinterpret your symptoms entirely. For example, early pleural mesothelioma symptoms can look like asthma or acute pneumonia. The early symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma often resemble irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or peptic ulcer disease.

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Asking for a Second Opinion

Some patients are nervous about asking for a second opinion. They are afraid they might offend their doctor. However, a reputable doctor should understand your need to get an accurate diagnosis and do all they can to help you.

 "If you have a doctor who would be offended by a second opinion, they are probably not the right doctor for you."
Dr. Gregory Abel, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Here are some ways you can ask your doctor for a second opinion:

  • “Before I get any treatment, I’d like to get a second opinion. Can you help me with that?”
  • “Can you recommend a specialist for a second opinion?”
  • “I’d like to get a second opinion to make sure I have all my options covered.”

There are also documents you should prepare before your second opinion appointment.

Here’s what you'll need to bring to your appointment:

  • All pathology reports from your initial diagnosis
  • Copies of your current treatment plan
  • List of all medications, doses, and how long you’ve been taking them
  • Copies of operation reports if you’ve had surgery
  • Copies of release forms if you've been in the hospital

You can also prepare for your appointment by downloading our Free Checklist of Questions to Ask Your Doctor.

14 Questions To Ask Your Doctor
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Benefits of Mesothelioma Second Opinions

One of the greatest benefits of getting a second opinion is that it could mean more time spent with your loved ones. Even if a mesothelioma specialist diagnosed you, a second opinion could reveal more (or better) treatment options.

Did you know?

Statistically, 60% of second opinions lead to a different treatment. And a different treatment often leads to a better prognosis.

Other benefits of mesothelioma second opinions include:

  • Eligibility for clinical trials: Getting a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist could open the door to clinical trials. Clinical trials offer the latest in mesothelioma treatment. Some mesothelioma patients have clinical trials to thank for their long-term survival.
  • Peace of mind: Second opinions can relieve anxiety. They give patients confidence in their diagnosis and treatment plan. Even if your second diagnosis doesn’t present new treatment options, you won't have the added stress of wondering if you could have gotten better treatment.
  • Better control of your prognosis: Ultimately, you are your own best advocate for treatment. By requesting a mesothelioma second opinion, you are taking charge of your health. If you ask for a second opinion, you could live past your initial mesothelioma prognosis.

Get a Mesothelioma Second Opinion Today

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that requires specialized expertise. Even if you have been seeing a doctor whom you trust, you should ask if they know of someone who can give you a second opinion.

Here's what to remember about mesothelioma second opinions:

  • They can open up previously unexpected treatment options.
  • New treatment options may extend your survival time.
  • It’s your right to advocate for a second opinion.

Every mesothelioma patient can benefit from a second opinion.If your doctor doesn’t agree that you need a second opinion, they may not have your best interests in mind.

Our Patient Advocates can help you connect with a mesothelioma specialist so you can get a second opinion. Contact us today or call (877) 450-8973 to get started.

FAQs About Mesothelioma Second Opinions

Can mesothelioma be misdiagnosed?

Yes, mesothelioma can be mistaken for other illnesses because it shares similar symptoms. Also, it may not be the first condition that doctors think of, because it is a rare form of cancer.

If you're a veteran who was exposed to asbestos during your military service, you should seek out a second opinion if you're experiencing symptoms associated with mesothelioma.

How often is mesothelioma misdiagnosed?

Over 20% of mesothelioma cases are misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms of this disease often mimic those of other illnesses, like the common cold.

What can be mistaken for mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma can be mistaken for:

  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Metastatic adenocarcinoma
  • Pneumonia

These are just a few examples of diseases that can cause symptoms similar to those of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Veterans Support Team
Todd Gersten, MD PhotoReviewed by:Todd Gersten, MD

Double Board-Certified Oncologist and Hematologist

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Todd Gersten, MD, is a double board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist specializing in general adult oncology and hematologic disease. He is a physician partner with the Florida Cancer Specialists and practices in Wellington, Florida.

Dr. Todd Gersten is an independently paid medical reviewer.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

  1. American Cancer Society. “Getting a Second Opinion.” Retrieved from: Accessed on March 14, 2024.
  2. American Cancer Society. “The Doctor Patient Relationship.” Retrieved from: Accessed on March 14, 2024.
  3. American Cancer Society. “Seeking a Second Opinion.” Retrieved from: Accessed on March 14, 2024.
  4. Cleveland Clinic. “Why You Should Consider a Second Medical Opinion.” Retrieved from: Accessed on March 14, 2024.
  5. Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. “Five Things You May Not Know About Second Opinions.” Retrieved from: Accessed on March 14, 2024.