GETTING A SECOND OPINION
Mesothelioma is rare and difficult to diagnose. A second opinion confirms a patient’s diagnosis and eligibility for certain treatments. This ensures patients receive the most effective treatment.
It’s important to consider getting a second opinion after you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer and doctors can have differing opinions on the best course of action because they don’t see it very often. If you’d like to have a second opinion, we can help you start the process with a free doctor consultation.
Benefits of a Second Opinion
- Potential for curative treatment. If your initial doctor diagnoses you with late stage mesothelioma, your treatment options will be limited. There is a possibility that a different doctor will stage your disease differently, opening up new treatment options like surgery.
- Peace of mind. If a second opinion yields results the same as the first diagnosis, you’ll have confidence in your mesothelioma doctor that he or she is doing everything in their power to help.
Having your diagnosis confirmed by another doctor will ensure that you get the most effective treatment possible—treatment that can improve your life expectancy.
Difficulty Diagnosing Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose because it’s rare—most doctors don’t get a chance to see, or even treat, the disease during their career. It also looks like other cancers on imaging scans, like x-rays, and is even hard to identify under a microscope. To correctly diagnose mesothelioma, your doctor must have enough experience treating the disease to know what it looks like and to differentiate it from other diseases.
On diagnostic imaging scans, mesothelioma looks like other illnesses and more common cancers like pneumonia or lung cancer. As a result, an experienced doctor will never diagnose mesothelioma using only an x-ray or CT scan. He or she will instead use an imaging test to locate tumors—or build ups of fluid—from which they’ll take a sample, a biopsy.
A biopsy is the only way a doctor can confirm their patient has mesothelioma. He or she will examine the cells taken from the tumor or fluid build up, and confirm their structure matches that of a mesothelioma cell. Even under a microscope, doctors can, however, easily mistake mesothelioma cells for cells of other, more common cancers, like adenocarcinoma and sarcoma. The more experience looking at mesothelioma a doctor has, the better he or she can differentiate the disease from other cancers.
Asking for a Second Opinion
If you feel uncomfortable asking for a second opinion, understand that what you’re feeling is natural and know that it’s a common request. Most doctors will suggest getting a second opinion before you ask—a few may even refer you to another doctor.
If the thought of requesting a second opinion still makes you feel uncomfortable, frame your request in a positive light. When you ask, highlight your satisfaction with your doctor’s work, and make sure he or she knows that you want to explore all your options before committing to a course of treatment. You can also get free help from a member of our Patient Help Team. One of our team members can review your diagnosis and connect you with an experienced mesothelioma doctor.
- Check with your health insurance before you go. Some plans require a second opinion for certain procedures, like surgery or extensive chemotherapy. Other plans may not require a second opinion but will still cover the cost of one.
- Prepare for your meeting. Bring copies of test results and imaging scans to your appointment. You can also prepare by learning more about mesothelioma with our free informational guide.
- Ask questions. Make sure your doctor understands why you’re looking for a second opinion.
Focusing on Your Health
At the end of the day, remember that getting treatment is about you. A professional doctor will understand your need for a second opinion and will accommodate your request to the best of their abilities.
If you have questions about your diagnosis, or need help getting a second opinion, speak to an experienced member of our Patient Help Team. We can help you get the treatment you need, and the peace of mind you deserve.