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Quite frequently, patients may receive a cancer diagnosis from their primary care physician or a doctor at the local hospital rather than from an oncologist specializing in mesothelioma.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma you should consider getting a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist. A second opinion is a medical review by an independent physician of the first physician’s diagnosis and/or treatment protocol. It is a standard medical practice to seek a “medical consult.”
A second opinion by a mesothelioma specialist will ensure that you can be confident in your diagnosis, that you understand all of the available treatment options and that you can make a fully-informed decision regarding your treatment. When you go to your second opinion appointment, you should bring all of your medical records with you, including any scans, test results or pathology. You should also attend your second opinion appointment with a list of questions that you would like to have answered, as well as, a pen and paper to take notes.
One option for those seeking a second opinion for a mesothelioma diagnosis is Sloan-Kettering in New York. Sloan-Kettering suggests that patients have answers to the following important questions pre-visit:
- What type of cancer do I have?
- How aggressive does the cancer appear to be, and how far has it spread?
- Are other tests needed before I decide on a treatment approach?
- Which type of treatment do you recommend and why?
- What is the goal of the treatment?
- What are the expected benefits of this treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of this treatment?
- Where will I receive this treatment?
- How long will I receive this treatment?
- Will I need to change my regular activities? If so, for how long?
- What other treatment options might be available?
- Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?
Sloan-Kettering also suggests that patients bring a friend or loved one to the appointment as a “second set of ears” who can take notes, listen and offer additional support.
Other facilities around the country specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma include the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, the Mayo Clinics, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
If you live in an area where you have limited access to different mesothelioma specialists, Brigham and Women’s Hospital offers a means to obtain a second opinion online through Partners HealthCare, which is a not-for-profit network that includes Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospital. With the help of your local doctor, you can submit your information for a second opinion through the Partners HealthCare website, Partners Online Specialty Consultations.
Although many health care plans cover second opinions, it is recommended that consult with your insurances carrier prior to scheduling to be sure.