July 26, 2004
Second Opinions Upon Recurrence
Richard In Memorium July 21, 2004 and Annette Bloch
The question is what to do if your cancer returns unexpectedly after being in remission or metastasizes during treatment.. The basic rule is don't panic. You got through this once, you can do it again. The most frightening time was when you were first diagnosed. The idea of having cancer was beyond belief. But you took treatments and you got it into remission. With a little planning, effort and luck, make up your mind you can do it again.
Possibly this fact, that seems like the worst possible news, is really a gift in disguise. Do not jump to any conclusions. Because you had cancer, anything that looks like cancer, smells like cancer or seems like cancer will be diagnosed as a recurrence or metastasis for you. Actually you may not have cancer at all. It may be scar tissue on an x-ray or an unexpected number on a blood count. Have a biopsy to be certain it is cancer. And then it may not be a recurrence of the same cancer but a totally new, different and readily treatable cancer.
But for the purpose of this article, lets assume it is a recurrence or metastasis. Should you get a second opinion? Without a moment's hesitation, the answer is a resounding YES! Obviously you have a good doctor because that doctor brought you through successfully the first time around. But now you have it back. Something is wrong. You should not have it back when you were not forewarned that it would return. Therefore you need a qualified, independent second opinion as to how to successfully treat this once and for all so it will never return.
A second opinion is not going to your doctor's assistant or golfing buddy. It is going to a different institution and seeing a qualified specialist in treating your specific type of cancer as to how to proceed. Possibly the best second opinion is a multidisciplinary second opinion where a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and surgeon sit at the table with you and explain your cancer and offer their suggestions, each from their own specialty. One doctor does not tell you what another can or cannot do. Some physicians are able to do things others think are impossible.
A list of institutions around the United States offering multidisciplinary second opinions is available from the Cancer Hot Line at 8 00-433-0464. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Getting a second opinion, particularly in the case of recurrent cancer, can improve the quality of your life and possibly save it.
R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, Inc.
4400 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
816-WE BUILD (816-932-8453), 1-800-433-0464, Fax 816-931-7486