A Conversation About Second Opinions

A Conversation About Second Opinions
A Lump in the Road column Dr. Michel Choueiri is an oncologist who trained at MD Anderson and UC San Diego. He’s also the founder of cancerdocs.org, a resource that helps patients get access to second opinions. He’s passionate about establishing standards of treatment for this disease and believes all patients deserve the same excellent care that the privileged few receive at the nation’s largest cancer centers. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with him. I heard compassion and intelligence as he described the need for all cancer patients to get a second opinion. During our conversation, he told me about a phone call he recently had with a guy from Saudi Arabia, a man whose wife didn’t want to talk with him. She had just had a mastectomy but after Dr. Choueiri reviewed her information, he concluded that her mastectomy was unnecessary. Research shows that a second opinion differs from a first up to 60 percent of the time in cancer diagnosis or treatment. I learned from Dr. Choueiri that almost half of cancer patients do get second opinions, whether or not they tell their doctors, but I was surprised to find out how frequently the diagnosis or course of treatment changes during that process. Here’s a summary of my interview with Dr. Choueiri. Q: Who should get a second opinion? A:  Every single cancer patient with very few exceptions! Some cancers, such as acute leukemia and testicular cancer, are so critical, so time sensitive,
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