Why the Roswell Park Doctor You Never Meet May Be the Most Important Person on Your Care Team
Head & neck cancer patients interact with many doctors during the course of their treatment, but rarely do they meet the specialist who plays a critical role in the outcome: the pathologist who diagnoses their cancer by analyzing samples of blood, tissue and body fluid. Precise diagnosis is what drives patient decisions and therapy. If the pathology is wrong, everything that follows will likely be incorrect as well.
It takes years of training and a specific skill set to become an expert pathologist. After medical school, doctors complete a minimum of four years in a pathology training program and generally pursue additional training in a subspecialty.
Never before in history have pathologists been so critically important. There’s an explosion of information about markers and genomic analysis that can help pinpoint cancers and predict which one will be more aggressive than the other.
Second Opinion Game-Changer: Roswell Park pathologists have reported a 10 percent change in overall cancer diagnoses that were made outside of Roswell Park.
Cancer treatments are becoming more and more targeted, so an accurate and comprehensive analysis by a pathologist is critical in determining the best approach.Learn how to read your pathology report.
Second Look, World of Difference
Even if all you need is a second opinion from Roswell Park, we’re here for you!
A second opinion is the best way to reassure you that your initial diagnosis of a head & neck cancer is accurate and the recommended treatment strategy is right for you! Over a century, our specialists have successfully worked with community doctors, and are happy to discuss and share information, as needed.
When Should You Seek a Second Opinion?
It’s always a good idea, but especially important if:
- Your physician or pathologist has not provided you with a full, clear explanation of your pathology report, in a language you understand.
- Your physician tells you that you don’t need a second opinion. A good doctor will suggest that you get another opinion if there are questions about your treatment or diagnosis. If your physician is offended, find a new doctor.
- Your physician wants you to have surgery tomorrow. Almost nothing in the world of cancer care requires that kind of immediacy, except patients with acute leukemia; cases in which a tumor is compressing a vital structure, such as the heart or large blood vessels; or certain other rare conditions.
If you’re still not sure whether to ask for a second opinion, ask yourself:
- Am I confident in the diagnosis or treatment options I’ve been given?
- Am I comfortable with my treating physician?
- Has my physician clearly explained all treatment options — not just the ones he or she prefers?
- Are there clinical research studies offering new treatments for my cancer?
- Was my cancer diagnosed at an office or community hospital setting or in a comprehensive cancer center?
- Does my insurance plan require a second opinion? If not, what type of coverage does it provide for second opinions?