Cancer diagnosis: 10 reasons to seek a second opinion

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After being diagnosed with cancer, many thoughts may run through a patient’s mind.

One of those thoughts might be the question, “Should I seek a second opinion?”

“It’s common for patients to want to speak with another physician about their diagnosis,” said Dr. Omar Gayar, radiation oncologist and medical director at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint, part of the Karmanos Cancer Network.

Every Karmanos Cancer Institute oncologist is part of the statewide Karmanos Cancer Network, with its collective experience, knowledge and treatment options at their disposal.

Talk to a Karmanos oncologist to obtain a second opinion

“The patient’s reasoning may not be just based on the shock they feel when they hear the word cancer, but patients also are looking for good news in light of the circumstance,” Dr. Gayar said. “Especially these days when treatments are better than they have been in the past. Patients are looking for a cure or a treatment that will allow them to continue to live a full life.”

With the awareness of proton therapy—a precise radiation treatment—being offered through McLaren Health Care, Dr. Gayar and his colleagues are seeing more patients schedule consultations and looking for a second opinion.

After a diagnosis, the specialists at McLaren will sit down with patients seeking a second opinion to provide them with all the necessary information to help them decide if proton therapy is appropriate for them.

Seeking a second opinion

Ten reasons a patient or their loved one may consider seeking a second opinion following a cancer diagnosis

You are looking for a ‘Yes, we can treat you.’

Patients may become upset by a diagnosis or if they are told that there is nothing that can be done to treat their cancer. They may be looking for a doctor who is confident they can treat the disease. The physicians at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center use the most advanced technology and may be able to treat cancers that cannot be treated with conventional radiation therapy.

You have a rare cancer that may be difficult to treat with conventional treatment modalities.

The advanced technology at the Proton Center includes a robotic couch with 360-degree rotation, paired with a gantry that has a 180-degree rotation. Our proton therapy team works to find the right angles to treat the tumor with as much accuracy as possible.

You want to explore all your options and think there could be more treatments available that you have not heard of, yet.

Proton therapy is still a new treatment option, especially for Michigan residents. The McLaren Proton Therapy Center is one of two treatment centers in the state, the only proton therapy center located in Flint and Genesee County, and one of only a handful of treatment centers in the country compared to the number of centers that offer conventional radiation.

You are looking for a non-invasive, advanced treatment.

If you are in search of a different treatment option, proton therapy does not require surgery. As the patient lays on the table, or robotic couch, the radiation is delivered through protons that are directed to travel in the body, no further than the depth of the tumor.

You hope to not have to experience side effects from cancer treatment and hope to not have to deal with long-term side effects.

With the ability to be able to stop protons at the depth of the tumor due to the advanced radiation technology at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, surrounding tissues are spared as much as 70-percent of unnecessary radiation. By not delivering radiation to those organs, many patients experience minimal side effects during and after treatment. Proton therapy also results in a better quality of life. Patients that receive proton therapy treatments often can maintain a healthy and productive life. Many patients continue the activities they love daily during treatment. Proton therapy also reduces the probability of secondary cancer due to the ability to spare healthy tissue.

When presenting treatment options, your doctor says radiation therapy is a treatment option for you.

If your physician presents radiation therapy as a treatment option, proton therapy may also be an option. Ask your physician about proton therapy or give the McLaren Proton Therapy Center a call to schedule a consultation.

You have had cancer treatments before and are told your body cannot take more treatment.

According to the National Association for Proton Therapy, proton therapy is “the only radiation treatment available that can treat recurrent tumors that have previously been treated with radiation.” This is because of the precise nature of protons. The ability to avoid the surrounding areas that have already been treated with proton therapy reduces the possibility of complications from treatment.

You or someone you love is young.

Young adults, adolescents, and especially children benefit from proton therapy. With their bodies still developing, children are at more risk for long-term side effects from cancer treatments. Treating children who have solid tumors with protons allows experts to avoid exposing healthy tissue to radiation, resulting in minimal side effects. Due to the ability to control where protons stop in the body, children, adolescents, and young adults have a reduced risk of long-term side effects. With much more life to live, the quality of life for a younger patient is better when treated with proton therapy. Proton therapy also reduces the risk of recurrent cancers.

You are looking for experience and reputation in treating your type of cancer.

A person may want to go to a more experienced oncologist or treatment center. The team at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center has decades of experience in treating patients with radiation therapy. They also have had extensive training in some of the top radiation oncology programs, completed fellowships in proton therapy at some of the top centers in the country, and work collaboratively to create the best treatment plan for their patients. This includes working with patients’ primary care providers and other oncologists who may be delivering chemotherapy or surgical treatments in addition to a patient’s proton therapy plan.

You are wanting to have access to clinical trials.

Patients at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center have access to treatments exclusive to Karmanos Cancer Institute, as well as clinical trials, cancer prevention programs, and multidisciplinary teams of cancer specialists. Karmanos is recognized as a national leader in research, advanced treatments, and the latest types of therapy. In addition, proton therapy patients at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center have access to national clinical trials through the Proton Collaborative Group (PCG). PCG’s mission is to improve the survival outcomes of cancer patients and their quality of life.

“Myself, and any one of my colleagues are happy to sit down with you to see if proton therapy is for you,” Dr. Gayar said. “Give us a call and our nurse navigator will be happy to schedule your appointment and assist with getting the health records needed for us to look at your diagnosis.”