A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be alarming and upsetting. However, receiving unnecessary treatment if the diagnosis is wrong is equally upsetting. Yet mistakes can happen no matter how skilled and experienced the health care professional. The value of a second opinion in dealing with thyroid cancer can confirm the diagnosis beyond a doubt and help guide treatment.
Thyroid Cancer is Uncommon
Thyroid cancer is one of the less common forms of cancer, accounting for only one percent of all cancer diagnoses. It is particularly relevant to consider a second opinion in an uncommon cancer diagnosis. Experience is what promotes skill in medical management and when cancers occur less frequently, it is more difficult to gain that experience. Diagnostic procedures such as a fine needle aspiration or FNA of the thyroid require considerable practice. Again, it is harder to gain that experience when a type of cancer occurs infrequently.
Choosing a Doctor
When choosing a doctor for a second opinion, it’s important to do some research. Find out where the doctor went to school, whether he or she is board-certified in the specialty of cytopathology and how long he or she has been in practice. To ensure that your doctor has the necessary skill, it’s important to ask about his or her experience. When it comes to an FNA of the thyroid, performing a minimum of 100 FNAs for thyroid cancer in a year is necessary to maintain a high level of skill. A fine needle aspiration specialist needs both a high level of knowledge and a high level of hands-on skill to perform the procedure carefully and accurately.
Why You Should Seek A Second Opinion
Raising the issue of a second opinion may feel uncomfortable to some patients. Patients have a right to a second opinion and to select the physician who will offer that opinion. Most treating doctors will be supportive of the request. Occasionally you might meet with resistance and need to insist. It is your well being and possibly even your life at stake. Research shows that the value of second opinions in thyroid cancer is quite high. Studies showed the diagnosis was more likely to be accurate when patients sought a second opinion. Since an accurate diagnosis also informs treatment, a second opinion is more likely to improve treatment or to prevent unnecessary treatment.
If you think or have been told you have thyroid cancer, don’t hesitate to ask for a second opinion. An FNA of the thyroid in the hands of a fine needle aspiration specialist like Dr. Nadelman could make all the difference. Please contact us for an appointment.