By Joe Pascente
I was diagnosed with a mass on my left lung approximately 6 centimeters in size. My primary care physician wanted me to move quickly and get a biopsy so he could decide what the best treatment would be.
I am a COPD patient with emphysema and really didn’t want a biopsy. I would rather they just went in a removed whatever was there. Some other history for me is that I was a smoker of about a pack a day for about 25 years, but have quit since 1995.
I decided to get a second opinion and was recommended by a friend and patient to Rush thoracic surgeon William Warren. My appointment was scheduled on Dec. 8, 2010, where I brought to him all of my films from previous scans and X-rays. When he entered the exam room, we talked a bit and he asked if I have the chills or feel flu-like symptoms. I told him “no, I feel fine.” I also mentioned my primary care physician recommended I move to get a biopsy.
Dr. Warren informed me I do not need a biopsy, he knows what it is and it is a form of cancer, and he feels it should be removed. He said “if it was me, I would get it done soon.” I was registered for the the surgery on the morning of Dec. 14. Continue reading
Dick was initially diagnosed with stomach cancer that had spread to his lungs, and doctors said it was incurable. At the urging of his son, who found out about the Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Clinic for Gastrointestinal Cancers online, Dick came to Rush University Medical Center for a second opinion.
That second opinion turned out to be significantly more hopeful
than the first. At the comprehensive clinic’s initial meeting, 12
physicians pored over Dick’s scans and came up with an exciting
discovery: They suspected that the tumor in Dick’s lung was unrelated
to the tumor in his stomach, and that it was a completely separate —
and treatable — cancer.
The team decided that the first step should be to remove the tumor
from his lung; if it was, in fact, a separate cancer as they suspected,
this confirmation would give them confidence to move forward to the
next stage of the plan. William Warren, MD, thoracic surgeon,
performed Dick’s surgery using a procedure known as video-assisted
This minimally invasive approach allowed Dick to recover from the surgery more quickly, so that he could move forward with the next stage of his treatment. Warren and the pathologists confirmed that the tumor was a separate cancer from the stomach tumor while Dick was still in the operating room and removed a portion of his lung.
Learn more about Dick’s Story at rushstories.org.
By Judy Germany
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may want to get a second opinion from another specialist before you begin treatment. A second opinion is an especially good idea if you feel uncertain about the proposed treatment or you think your doctor underestimates the seriousness of your illness.
Even if you like your doctor and trust his or her treatment plan, you should still consider getting another opinion — not only to confirm the cancer diagnosis but, more important, to make sure you learn about every available treatment. In fact, many patients who get second opinions end up staying with the doctor who diagnosed or initially treated them, but talking to another specialist can empower you to make decisions based on fully understanding all of your options.
The following tips will help guide you through this important process:
- Begin by telling your doctor that you want to get a second opinion. Cancer patients commonly seek a second opinion and some health plans actually require one, especially when a doctor recommends surgery or an experimental therapy. But some people may not feel comfortable talking to their doctor about getting another opinion. To make discussing the issue easier, tell your doctor that you are satisfied with his or her treatment plan and care, but that you want to ensure you are thoroughly informed about all available cancer treatment options. It may help to bring a family member or friend along for support when you have the conversation.
- Ask your doctor for copies of your medical records, original x-rays, lab and test results so you can take them with you on your first visit for a second opinion. You can also have the new doctor’s office request your records from your primary doctor if that is more convenient. It’s a good idea to request copies of your medical records even if you don’t plan to seek a second opinion, in case of an emergency. Your doctor’s office may charge a small fee to copy the records. Continue reading