Based on your input, we developed a breast care center committed to:
- Diagnosing breast problems early and accurately
- Using a team of dedicated breast specialists who work together with you to determine your best treatment plan (meet our specialists)
- Taking time to educate you and include you in all decision making
- Guiding your care with a Registered Nurse “Breast Health Navigator“
Now you can see the result–the area’s only independent breast care center coordinating your services at your choice of United Medical Park or Allen Hospital.
- Mammogram Review
- Breast Biopsies
- Ultrasound Guided Biopsies
- Stereotactic Breast Biopsies
- 3D Mammography
- Computer-Aided Detection (CAD)
- Breast MRI
- Dexa Bone Density Scanner
Second Opinions: Why, When, and Who
First, you can get a different perspective on your options. Some doctors are more conservative and others more aggressive. There may be good arguments for several different options; getting a second option can be a good way to hear some of them.
A second opinion can also serve a general quality check – to make sure you are getting the most up to date and most effective treatment for your type of cancer.
Here is a list of some reasons why you might want a second opinion. This should help focus your thinking, but there is no easy answer for when you need a second opinion. So you’ll need to consider your situation and think about whether you might benefit.
If There is Something “Borderline” About Your Case
If your tumor is almost operable, but not quite, or conversely almost inoperable but not quite, you might want a second opinion. You might either save yourself unnecessary surgery or you might save your life. Similarly if your tumor is on the borderline of requiring adjuvant chemotherapy you might want a second opinion.
If You Have a Rare Cancer
If you have a rare cancer, it can definitely pay to get a second opinion. What you really want is to find an expert in that form of cancer. If such an expert is local then you should probably switch to that doctor, if the expert is far away, which is likely, your doctor may be able to work with him via telephone consultations. If you have the good fortune to already be under treatment by an expert, then of course, you don’t need a second opinion to get expert advice.
Even if your cancer isn’t all that rare, you may very well benefit from finding someone with a special interest in your type of cancer..
If You Live in a Rural Area
If you live in a rural area and get treatment at a small hospital, it may pay to get a consult from a larger facility. I’m not saying you can’t get good treatment from a small rural hospital, but getting another opinion can help.
Pathology Second Opinions
Most people never consider the possibility of getting a second opinion on the pathology report from which the diagnosis was made, but the entire plan of treatment depends on what kind of cancer you have and how far it has spread, both of which usually depend in part or whole on the pathologists interpretation of the biopsy or surgical specimen. Changes in the interpretation of the pathology can dramatically change both the treatment and the prognosis.
At the same time, most patients probably do not need a second pathology opinion. There are some common sense cues that can let you know if it might make sense. I think that if you have a really rare cancer, it is always advisable to get a second pathology opinion. It is likely that the pathologist had little or no experience with that particular kind of cancer, so the chance for an error may be higher.
If your pathology report doesn’t give a definite diagnosis, a second opinion is in order. But also if the pathology report describes something as unusual, or you find that it is unusual based on your knowledge of the disease. As a basic step, you should obtain a copy of the appropriate pathology report from your doctor.
You want your second opinion to be independent – so you should choose a doctor who doesn’t have a close relationship with your doctor. Doctors who practice together are likely to think similarly, and might tend to defer to the opinions of their colleagues. What you want is a fresh perspective. I’d go so far as to recommend finding a doctor who practices at a different hospital. A research hospital or major cancer center is usually a good place to get a second opinion since they will be up to date on the latest in treatment and diagnosis.
There is a special kind of second opinion that, while not independent, is worth considering because it’s a great way to get a wide range of opinions all at once. This is the Tumor Board or tumor conference. Most hospitals have a tumor board which is a regular meeting of a group of doctors to consider the best treatment for specific cases presented by members of the group. Physicians from several specialties such as surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, pathology and diagnostic radiology will attend. If your doctor doesn’t seem to have a clear recommendation for you, consider asking if he could present your case to the tumor board.
Most types of breast cancer are treated by several different types of specialists. Breast cancer is typically treated by three different specialties. These are Surgeons, Radiation Oncologists, and by Medical Oncologists who use pharmaceutical treatment.
Frequently, surgery is the first approach, followed by a referral to Medical Oncology for consideration of adjuvant treatments such as chemotherapy and/or anti-estrogen medication. Radiation Oncology is then consulted for their input as to if any radiation treatments are indicated.
There are times, where there is a change from this routine sequence. In the event of a large primary breast tumor, known or suspected lymph node involvement, or known distant metastatic disease, a Medical Oncology consultation may be recommended as the initial approach.