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Why It’s Worth Seeking a Second Opinion for Prostate Cancer
No matter what the diagnosis is, most patients who have been diagnosed with cancer can take some extra time to seek a second opinion before starting treatment. That’s especially true if you’ve been told you have prostate cancer.
Having a second expert review your case can ensure that your care is on the right path and, if you opt to see a specialist at a major cancer center, seeking a second opinion might also give you an opportunity to consider additional treatment options that may not have been discussed or previously offered.
You might feel the need to act immediately when diagnosed with prostate cancer, but it’s worth taking a moment to gather your thoughts and confirm the planned treatment approach is appropriate for you. Also, prostate cancers tend to be slow growing and change over weeks to months, not in the span of days to weeks; so it’s expected that your tumor won’t change with a delay of a few weeks while you explore additional treatment options (and in the majority of cases, it doesn’t change at all).
Weighing Your Options
As with other cancers, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for prostate cancer. Having another set of eyes examine your diagnostic imaging and biopsy results will help make sure that your cancer is staged accurately and you’re offered the optimal treatment.
Consider the fact that many prostate cancers are best managed with active surveillance, which involves monitoring the cancer closely with testing and biopsies and only proceeding to treatment if the cancer grows and becomes more aggressive. For some, deciding on a watch-and-wait approach can be nerve-racking; knowing a second expert supports that option could help ease some of your worries.
Of course, a second opinion can also open up treatment possibilities you may not have known about, such as clinical trials. You might also find out about ways to make your treatment more manageable. For instance, major cancer centers like Fox Chase offer SpaceOAR hydrogel, a buffer material that is placed during a minimally invasive procedure prior to radiation treatment, that can minimize the degree and severity of certain radiation-related side effects (such as bowel problems).
Getting a Second Opinion
The best time to seek a second opinion is before you start treatment. It is best to begin by talking with the doctor who made your initial prostate cancer diagnosis. They won’t be offended, and they may even be able to recommend a specialist for you to see. You can open up the conversation by saying: “Before we start treatment, I’d like to get a second opinion. Will you help me do that?”
When meeting with an expert for a second opinion, you should bring along your medical records (including blood work, imaging tests, and biopsy results). This can help you avoid having the same test done twice or help the second physician identify other methods to diagnose your cancer more accurately. An example of this is the micro-ultrasound technology offered at Fox Chase.
Having the right information is key for making the best decision about your care.
Prostate Cancer Second Opinions at Fox Chase
Fox Chase’s urologic oncologists routinely provide second opinions for men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Medically reviewed by David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS