Learn about the importance of getting a second medical opinion especially concerning the diagnosis of prostate cancer and breast cancer.
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What diagnoses need a second opinion? Dr. Thaddeus Bell: There are several diagnoses that patients need to get a second opinion on. And the reason that this second opinions need to be sought is because the research shows often times that patients do not understand neither do they get the full picture of exactly what is going on with them. So to make sure that a mistake is not made a second opinion needs to be sought. If you have prostate cancer and you are going to be operated on to have a prostate taken out. A second opinion from another group of specialists needs to be sought. It is very common particularly for African-American patients to get their prostate taken out when they really did not need to have that done. Sometimes, just watching and waiting is the appropriate treatment but in order for you to know that and in order for you to know what your choices are other than surgery, you may need to get a second opinion, so I would recommend getting a second opinion. The next medical problem that would require a second opinion is treatment for breast cancer or removal of your breast. We are finding that the best treatment can often be done at major universities that specialize in this kind of thing because they take an approach where they are looking at everything. They are looking at whether or not chemotherapy would be the best thing, radiation therapy, maybe a combination of those things, maybe surgery. So they look at it from a broad of perspective. So, if you are not comfortable with what your doctor has told you, ask for a second opinion. Most doctors don’t get intimidated if you ask for a second opinion. Most doctors will welcome a second opinion and insurance companies will usually pay for it so I would encourage you to do that. The next problem would be back pain. Back pain is a very, very common medical problem that we see in a family practice setting. Most of the time people do not get surgery if they have back pain. Back pain can be treated conservatively and so, if someone is saying that surgery is needed or is recommended then I would recommend that to feel comfortable with what the doctor is telling you, that you get another opinion from a different group, not from somebody in that group, a totally group altogether. Another problem, you know obesity is a very, very common problem in our society today. We have a lot of people who are getting gastric bypass surgery. The outcome of all of the physicians that do gastric bypass surgery is not the same. So, you want to make sure you do your homework, that you have looked at the outcome data when it comes to gastric bypass surgery and if you are not really sure, check with another group of doctors to make sure that that is the type of surgery that you need and that is the type of outcome that you are going to be able to expect. So those are the top ones that I would think about. And finally, if you are going to require any eye surgery, everybody the outcome data for all ophthalmologists is not the same. So you want to make sure that you get a second opinion that the type of surgery that is being recommended for you is going to be the right surgery. So I would definitely recommend that you get second opinions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about a second opinion.