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Why should I get a second opinion on prostate cancer treatment?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Feel free to ask for a second opinion from another doctor or specialist for a diagnosis or treatment plan for prostate cancer. Don't be afraid that you'll offend your primary doctor, as second opinions are a regular part of the medical process. With prostate cancer, which can have many different courses of treatment, second opinions can be especially important to bringing peace of mind.

As a medical oncologist who sees patients with prostate cancer and does research on the disease, I have a perspective that is different from urologists (surgeons), radiation oncologists and primary care physicians. In fact, we all have a point of view.

When I see patients with newly diagnosed, localized prostate cancer (meaning it has not spread anywhere visibly), it is usually in addition to visits the patient may have already had with a urologist and radiation oncologist. Since I do not actually do the surgery or radiation, patients sometimes view me as a "tiebreaker" about how they should treat (or not treat) their prostate cancer.

I wish it were simple, but in fact, the second opinion requires a careful review of the biopsy by an expert pathologist, review of all the PSAs and clinical information, including any scans that may have been done, as well as a detailed history and physical exam. Why? Because prostate cancer is very heterogeneous in how it behaves and because the men in who prostrate cancer may occur are also very variable. When you combine these two uncertainties, the optimal approach can vary from no treatment at all to aggressive surgery, radiation, hormones and/or chemotherapy!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.