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Getting second opinions after Cancer diagnosis

Monday, March 18, 2013

Is it cancer or not? That's the question pathologists answer all day long. They are the doctors making that microscopic diagnosis.

Chief of Breast Pathology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr. Edi Brogi says they're asked for a second opinion on patients from around the world.

"If I were a patient, I would get a second opinion in terms of pathology probably every time that something major is planned," said Dr. Brogi.

She says that almost always, their diagnosis is the same as the first, but every so often, in about 1 case out of a hundred, there will be a major difference, one that could change your entire diagnosis and treatment plan.

Here's a patient diagnosed with dcis-- an early non-invasive form of breast cancer.

"However when we reviewed this case, there was a minute focus of invasion that had not been detected," adds Dr. Brogi.

That's enough to call it invasive cancer, which could mean more aggressive treatment. Chief of Breast Surgery, Dr. Monica Morrow says if you're diagnosed with DCIS, it's worth questioning.

"Where there are disagreements between established pathologists -so those are areas where it makes sense to get a second opinion," she said.

And to get a second opinion, you don't have to travel and see a doctor, the slides have to travel. And there are different ways to make that happen

Most cancer centers have a pathology consultation or second opinion website, look for a form or contact number for more instructions.

You can also call the pathology department from your hospital, but Dr. Brogi says it's best if you arrange it through your doctor.

"It doesn't hurt to get a second opinion and will buy you peace of mind," she said.

LINK: Navigating a Second Opinion

LINK: Find a Cancer Center

LINK: MD Anderson Cancer CenterSecond Opinion

LINK: Johns Hopkins Second Opinion

LINK: Sloan Kettering Cancer Center-Pathology Consultation

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