You May Have Second Thoughts When Receiving a Cancer Diagnosis

CURE, CURE® Spring 2021 Issue,

Luckily, obtaining a second opinion has become easier with advances in telehealth and other virtual technologies, which allow patients to share their medical records and test results with physicians and pathologists to potentially improve treatment plans.

It goes without saying that receiving a diagnosis of cancer can catch people off guard. What if you want another expert to review your records to make sure the diagnosis is correct? Getting an appointment with another oncologist quickly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can be a challenge.

Luckily, obtaining a second opinion has become easier with advances in telehealth and other virtual technologies, which allow patients to share their medical records and test results with physicians and pathologists to potentially improve treatment plans. Some cancer centers have launched second-opinion programs to help patients obtain care at a location closer to their homes. In this issue of CURE®, we speak with two patients who sought second opinions for rare and aggressive cancers. One patient details his journey after receiving a diagnosis of a rare sarcoma that spread across his abdominal cavity; his first doctor told him they could offer only palliative care, whereas another doctor was able to operate on him due to his specialization in treating rare sarcomas. Another patient obtained a second opinion regarding treatment for triple-negative breast cancer because her original treatment plan resulted in very low blood counts. Her alternate treatment plan from a different oncologist was more tolerable. We also spoke with several experts who emphasize the importance of second opinions to learn about all of the opportunities for your type of cancer.

Also inside, a feature examines the power of positive thinking during and after cancer treatment. We spoke with patients who learned how beneficial optimism can be, especially since cancer and depression are biochemically linked. Staying positive can be fostered in many ways, such as surrounding yourself with people you love, focusing on the encouraging aspects of life and working with a therapist.

Read on and you’ll meet an oncologist who learned how to balance being a caregiver for his wife, who received a diagnosis of stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer, with being a doctor for his patients. He and his wife wrote a book focused on their experiences during this challenging time. They share how important it is to communicate with your family and your care team to hopefully attain the best outcomes.

This issue also covers implications of several recent treatment approvals from the Food and Drug Administration for skin and kidney cancer, in addition to important targets for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer that may be on the horizon.

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