However, some of the very best clinical trials are restricted to patients in early lines of therapy and it would be a shame to miss out on even considering these. So, I recommend seeing at least one second-opinion at a major academic center as soon as possible after diagnosis.”
Dr. Weiss says too often, patients see him a day or two after starting a new treatment, with the idea that if he has a good trial for them, they’ll switch.
“No clinical trial allows this. They can’t, because they would have no way of knowing if a response was due to the trial regimen or to whatever was given before it. It is reasonable to want to start treatment right away,” he said. “So, if you truly want to consider options from a second opinion, don’t start a new line of therapy before seeing the expert,” he said.
If you plan to seek a second opinion, Dr. Weiss recommends providing the new doctor with as much information about your health condition as possible. This will enable him or her to provide you with the best and most accurate information.
Include doctor’s notes, laboratory reports, pathology reports (and actual tissue or slides for further testing), radiology reports, and CDs of the actual diagnostic images if they are available. Many academic centers have new patient coordinators that will help you to transfer this information, he says.
“Seeking good clinical trials is the most important reason to seek out a second opinion. Clinical trials are not the best choice for every patient at every time point, but I feel strongly that optimal care should at least consider them at every major decision point,” he said.
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer and Scuba enthusiast living in San Diego, CA with her husband and two beach loving dogs. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Insider’s Guide to the Second Opinion. Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education. Dr. Jared Weiss. 13 November 2011. Used by permission. Online at: