American Family Children's Hospital

Second Opinions

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Noelle LoConte, MD, Oncologist, UW Carbone Cancer Center
Dr. Noelle LoConte
In this month's edition of A Note From Your Doctor, Noelle LoConte, MD explains why second opinions are an important step in cancer treatment.
A second opinion about their cancer treatment is a crucial step for many patients to feel comfortable with their plan of care, and also for them to acquire as much knowledge about their diagnosis, including the treatment and prognosis as possible.
However, many patients also feel like they are betraying their primary health care team if they get a second opinion, expressing that they are concerned that getting a second opinion will show that they do not trust their original doctor and his/her team.
Let me state clearly and for the record: there is no need to worry about offending anyone when you request or get a second opinion.
Especially in oncology, we are very accustomed to patients getting second opinions. I welcome them, as it helps patients really feel good about the care they are getting here when they hear other providers echo our recommendations.
I think it is particularly important to get at least one medical opinion from someone at an academic cancer center to ensure that you hear about clinical trial options for your disease, which are not always nationally available.
We know from prior research done at the UW that Wisconsin residents' number 1 reason for not participating in a cancer clinical trial is because they were not told about the options.
Read the study abstract  from the Journal of Clinical Oncology illustrating Dr. LoConte's point: Disparities in the Clinical Trial Participation of Adult Cancer Patients
This is clearly unacceptable, so I say to patients and their families, if you are not told about trial options, ask directly "are there any clinical trials that I may be a candidate for?" A good second opinion will provide the answer for you.
About Dr. LoConte

Dr. LoConte is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She joined the faculty of the UW Carbone Cancer Center in the summer of 2006. She was the recipient of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award for 2006. Her clinical interests are in gastrointestinal cancers, as well as cancer of any type in the older adult.

Dr. LoConte writes a column for Advances e-Newsletter called A Note From Your Doctor. In her column, she shares her thoughts on healthy living, cancer research and current treatments. She will even answer your questions.