Why You Should Get a Second Opinion After a Liver Cancer Diagnosis

Understanding Liver Cancer

The human liver is a big organ found in the upper-right abdominal cavity, beneath the diaphragm. It aids digestion and removes toxins from the body. Cancer cells can originate in the liver (primary) or spread from other organs (secondary). When we talk about liver cancer, we usually refer to cancer that originates from the liver cells.

The severity of liver cancer depends on the following factors:

  • Location of the tumour(s) in the liver
  • number of tumours in the liver
  • size of the tumour when compared to the overall volume of the liver
  • the function of the liver
  • has it spread to other organ(s)
  • patient’s overall health and risk factors

These factors will determine the treatment plan and care support required. Immediate and effective liver cancer treatment is crucial after getting a diagnosis.

It’s Okay to Get a Second Opinion for Liver Cancer Treatment

Liver cancer is an aggressive cancer. Doctors generally do not mind their patients seeking a second opinion for liver cancer treatment. Some doctors may even encourage it so that the patient has an opportunity to check if there are alternatives to what was offered.

This can help to confirm the diagnosis and allows the patient to hear a new viewpoint or the same opinion from a different liver cancer specialist.

Does Not Mean You Need to Change the Liver Cancer Specialist

Patients frequently think that they must choose between their present doctor and a new one should they seek a second or even third opinion. However, this is not the case.

There are situations when the second opinion leads to a new diagnosis or treatment recommendations that may differ from the first. Your current liver cancer specialist can also collaborate with the other doctor to formulate a treatment plan that you are most comfortable with.

Explore Other Possible Treatment Options

Patients actively involved in making the decision on their cancer treatment plan can result in better health outcomes than those who do not. Exploring other possible treatment options allows the patients to seek different views and have a better understanding of the pros and cons of the respective treatments. Through this process, the patients are empowering themselves in the decision-making. By communicating with the doctor about their thoughts and misgivings, the patients will be most comfortable with the treatment plan formulated by the doctor.

Unclear Diagnosis

Liver cancer is a life-threatening illness; you should be sure that the diagnosis is correct without having any doubt. However, if you have any reservations, seeking a second opinion can provide the assurance that you need. In addition, obtaining a second opinion not only can confirm your initial doctor’s diagnosis, you may also be able to hear an alternative treatment plan.

To Have a Peace of Mind

After receiving the diagnosis, patients usually experience a range of emotions, such as anger, denial, fear, and anxiety. It is important for the patients not to judge themselves, to address these emotions and take concrete actions to resolve these emotions. Getting a second opinion can be part of the solution as this can help them face these uncertainties, get more information, and have peace of mind knowing that they have done what is necessary and have selected the right doctor and team to assist in the recovery.

Complicated Health Issues

If you have other existing health concerns, you are strongly encouraged to seek a second opinion. Complicated health issues may prevent the patients from receiving certain therapy or medications. This may require a multidisciplinary approach, hence It is important that the specialist has a team or can work with other doctors who are experts in their respective fields, to get their inputs and adjust the treatment plan according to the health conditions.

To Better Understand the Treatment & Possible Side Effects

Many cancer patients are susceptible to long-term side effects which may continue months or years after receiving the treatment. It is important to carefully evaluate and understand the risks and consequences of various treatment options. Run through your concerns with your doctor on the impact of receiving the treatments. Speaking to another doctor may provide you with alternative therapies that have fewer or different side effects.

Conclusion

Inform your liver cancer specialist if you wish to obtain a second opinion. The doctor will understand your reasons for doing so. Seeking a second opinion does not mean second-guessing your doctor. In fact, a second opinion may be an important part of your treatment journey.

Reviewing your diagnosis and treatment options with a second specialist can result in re-examining the medical reports to validate the first diagnosis or have different opinions.

Getting peace of mind that you have done what is needed for your treatment is an important step prior to undergoing the treatment.

 

References

  • https://www.mskcc.org/news/8-things-you-should-know-about-getting-second-opinion-after-cancer-diagnosis
  • https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/how-to-ask-for-second-opinion
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/liver-cancer/

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HepatoBiliary, Pancreas & General Surgeon
Dr Ho is an accredited Hepatobiliary & Pancreatic Surgeon. Since his graduation from the medical faculty at the National University of Singapore in 1994, Dr Ho has accumulated more than 20 years of clinical experience.
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Nexus Surgical Associates makes no representation and assumes no responsibility for the information, contained on or available through this website without consultation with our doctors. The information provided on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from a doctor or if you require urgent care you should go to the A&E.

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