Second Opinions For Mesothelioma
Medical professionals can accurately diagnose mesothelioma, but a second opinion can eliminate the chance of misdiagnosis. Many oncologists who do not specialize in a specific type of cancer, like mesothelioma, encourage patients to receive a second opinion.
Mesothelioma specialists work among experts in diagnosing and treating cancer, ensuring an accurate course of action for the patient. The complexity of a mesothelioma diagnosis means specialists are experts in the cell types and other intricacies.
Mesothelioma patients should receive a second opinion, not only to prevent misdiagnosis but to better understand their unique case so they can be confident in their treatment and recovery. Often, patients receive a diagnosis in the later stages. Accurate treatment plans can have a significant impact on survival time.
The Benefits of Another Opinion
Patients that receive a mesothelioma diagnosis should consider a second opinion as soon as possible. False-positive and false-negative mesothelioma diagnoses may occur, no matter how experienced an oncologist may be.
A patient can have their doctor refer them to a mesothelioma pathologist, who will study a biopsy sample from the patient. Then, the pathologist confirms or denies the diagnosis based on lab results.
Treatment options are sometimes better for patients who receive a second opinion. If the additional opinion changes the stage of cancer to one less severe, a patient could then qualify for more aggressive treatments.
Aggressive mesothelioma treatment in earlier stages can significantly improve survival time. Mesothelioma can advance quickly. The sooner a specialist confirms a diagnosis, the better the treatment plan is.
Additionally, mesothelioma specialists stay up-to-date on the latest clinical trials and nearly approved treatment options. Oncologists have a much broader scope of cancer treatments or focus on more common forms of cancer.
How to Get a Second Opinion For a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
A referral to many kinds of oncologists comes easier than to one who specializes in mesothelioma. There are only a few specialists since less than 5,000 mesothelioma diagnoses occur in the United States each year. There are even fewer cancer centers with the resources and experience needed to improve survival.
In their second opinion, patients should choose a mesothelioma specialist. One who has several years of experience in working with mesothelioma patients would be best. Some mesothelioma specialists work at cancer centers with designated mesothelioma programs.
To start the process of receiving a second opinion for a mesothelioma diagnosis, talk to your doctor about how to choose the right specialist and hospital. After choosing a cancer center with a mesothelioma specialist, reach out to the cancer center and ask to become a patient. A referral from a physician may be needed, along with a copy of the patient’s complete medical history.
Second Opinions For Mesothelioma Before Surgery
Surgeries for mesothelioma treatment require a large amount of care and recovery time. Second opinions can change the course of treatment or type of surgery for many patients. Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) or pleurectomy with decortication (P/D) are two surgical procedure treatment options for pleural mesothelioma patients.
An EPP is an invasive surgical procedure best used on patients in earlier stages of mesothelioma. The treatment involves the removal of an entire lung and nearby affected tissue. The surgery can be extremely risky and sometimes fatal for patients with stage III pleural mesothelioma.
P/D is less invasive and only removes the lining of the lung, called the pleura, followed by the removal of visible tumors along the surface of the lungs and chest cavity. Patients still must be in good overall health to undergo the procedure, but the fatality rate during or directly after is far lower than EPP.
A second opinion before a major surgical procedure for mesothelioma treatment is important in determining what’s best for the patient. For example, a patient misdiagnosed as having stage III mesothelioma may not be recommended invasive surgery. A second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist may change the diagnosis to a stage II, allowing the option for curative treatments like EPP or P/D. Conversely, a second opinion from a mesothelioma specialist could also stop a patient from undergoing an invasive surgical procedure.
The Cost of a Second Opinion
Mesothelioma patients who seek a second opinion typically do not pay out-of-pocket. Most insurance companies cover the cost of receiving a second opinion. Some providers may encourage a second opinion.
Patients can receive additional funding for transportation or loss of income through social programs, like Social Security Disability or VA benefits for veterans. Additionally, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos can receive legal compensation from companies that manufactured asbestos products.