Recently, I spoke with Dr. Michel Choueiri, an oncologist who trained at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of California, San Diego. He’s the founder of cancerdocs.org
, a resource that helps patients access second opinions and answer cancer questions, and he’s passionate about helping all people get the best care possible.
Here’s his advice:
1. ‘If a doctor tells you that you have cancer, get a second opinion.’
During our conversation, I learned that in cancer cases, a second opinion differs on diagnosis or treatment from the first one up to 60% of the time according to many studies, including some done at Harvard.
I was listening closely, because for me, a second opinion saved my life. The first doctor I met with told me my lump was nothing to worry about.
I asked Dr. Choueiri if a second opinion is ever not
warranted. “Rarely,” he said. “Only in those highly unusual cases when the need for treatment is so urgent that there’s no time to get another opinion. If you are treated at a top-rated cancer facility, a second opinion is also not as important because colleagues discuss among themselves. In every other case when you are treated in a community setting
,” he emphasized, “get a second opinion and get your peace of mind
“With breast cancer for example,” he went on, “there’s often a rush to perform a total mastectomy when simpler options, like lump