Day 24 – LUNG CANCER ADVICE: Second Medical Opinions & Tumor Boards
Should I get a second opinion?
If diagnosed with lung cancer, you or your loved one may want a second opinion. This may be because you desire verification of your diagnosis to believe this is actually happening, or to gain the confidence in confirming that you are on the right treatment path. You may want a second opinion because you and your doctor are not communication well, you feel as though you cannot ask questions openly about your care, or that your doctor is not up to date on current testing or treatment options. You may want to seek out experts who specialize in various areas of oncology and adjunct therapies or those who know more about a certain treatment path such as clinical trials. Your health insurance company may even require it.
Choosing to get a second opinion might feel uncomfortable or confrontational, yet your oncologist will likely expect that you will get a second set of experienced eyes to review your care. She will (hopefully) be glad to have your confidence in either the corroboration of her diagnosis and treatment plan, or will be open to the concept of emerging treatments she might not yet be comfortable with or have available at her facility. This is YOUR body, your life, and your treatment plan ~ and you have the right to be your own best advocate for your needs.
I appreciate these conversation starters offered by LungCancer.org:
- “I respect your opinion and I would like to speak with one other expert before starting your recommended treatment. How can I proceed?”
- “I need the reassurance of a second opinion and I’d like to talk with another doctor to be sure. What is the next step?”
- “This is all so new to me and I feel that a second opinion could help me give me clarity.”
What exactly is a Tumor Board?
When a group of cancer treatment specialists come together to review diagnostic tests and the best possible course of treatment for a particular patient, this is called a Tumor Board. This interdisciplinary group may consist of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, etc. They are coming together to examine the course that the lung cancer is taking in your body and proposing and evaluating the best possible care options in your best interest.
Concurrently, the process keeps the specialists’ knowledge base high as they learn from each other about emerging therapies, diagnostics and possibly unconventional treatment plans. They may likely receive group consensus about best standards of care to follow for your particular treatment plan.
Particularly if you have a rare type of cancer, a scientifically intriguing metastasis that other medical professionals can learn about or for which another specialist might be able to provide insight, or if your cancer or symptoms fall outside the ‘norm’ of the statistical nature of your disease process, these specialists will actually revel in learning more and helping you in your cancer journey even though you may never personally meet!
RESOURCES: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/lung-cancer/patients/treatment/decide-on-a-treatment/second-opinion.html, https://www.lungcancer.org/find_information/publications/264-when_to_get_a_second_opinion, https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/tumor-board-review, and https://www.interventionaloncology360.com/article/four-tips-optimizing-tumor-board-participation