Pediatric Cancer Pathology

Why the Roswell Park Doctor You Never Meet May Be the Most Important Person On Your Child's Care Team

Pediatric cancer patients see many doctors during the course of their treatment, but rarely do they meet the specialist who plays a critical role in their outcome: the pathologist who diagnoses their cancer by analyzing samples of blood, tissue and body fluid. Precise diagnosis is what drives all subsequent decisions about treatment options and other patient choices.

The pathologists at Roswell Park receive extensive training in the study of cancers. They directly review all of the pathology slides from the biopsy (whether it was performed at Roswell Park or by an outside physician) and render an expert opinion on the key characteristics that will define your child’s cancer treatment.

Second Opinion Game-Changer: Roswell Park pathologists have reported a 10 percent change in overall cancer diagnoses that were made outside of Roswell Park.

How to Read Your Pathology Report

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 your child needs is a second opinion from Roswell Park, we’re here for you! A second opinion is the best way to reassure you that the initial diagnosis of cancer is accurate and the recommended treatment strategy is right! For 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 child’s pathology report, in a language you understand.
  • Your physician tells you that your child doesn’t need a second opinion. A good doctor will suggest that you get another opinion if there are questions about the treatment or diagnosis. If your physician is offended, find a new doctor.
  • Your physician wants your child 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 given about my child?
  • Am I comfortable with the treating physician?
  • Has my child's physician clearly explained all treatment options — not just the ones he or she prefers?
  • Are there clinical research studies offering new treatments for my child’s cancer?
  • Was the 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?

To arrange for a second opinion, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or fill out the Become a Patient Form.