+1-855-573-2663 support@secondopinions.com

The Unfamiliar Terrain: It’s Cancer, Now What?

Jun 21, 2023

Cancer. You can never prepare for it.

There is nothing more frightening than a cancer diagnosis. It shatters your day-to-day existence and you emerge into unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable terrain. Nothing prepares you for the roller coaster of medical jargon, doctor’s appointments, and treatments options.

A cancer diagnosis is well beyond a “a medical journey.” It’s more like an odyssey that needs advanced navigational equipment.

Navigating Cancer Treatments

Cancers can be found in organs, tissues, bones, and/or blood. They are broadly categorized as carcinomas, sarcomas, leukemia, lymphomas, and central nervous system cancers, among others. And each category has a wide variety of subtypes.

The type of cancer you have will dictate the course of treatment. Some of those options include:

  • Surgery: Removing tumors or a part of the affected area surgically. It’s often used as an initial treatment for localized cancers.
  • Chemotherapy: Administered orally or intravenously, chemo kills cancer cells and attempts to stop their growth. It can be used with other treatments depending on the type of cancer you have.
  • Radiation Therapy: High-energy rays are targeted externally to destroy cancer cells internally, or it can be delivered internally through implants.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment helps the body’s immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • Hormone Therapy: This kind of therapy treats cancers that are hormone-sensitive (e.g., breast or prostate cancer). It blocks hormones or lowers their levels to slow or stop cancer growth.
  • Stem Cell Transplant: Also known as a bone marrow transplant, this procedure replaces damaged or diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells to help the body recover from high doses of chemotherapy or radiation.

A team of doctors will likely individualize your treatment plan based on the type and stage of cancer, your health, and potential side effects. Many of the treatments noted above are offered in combination with others, simultaneously or sequentially, to combat your disease.

Don’t Rush: Get a Second Opinion

Cancer is complex. It often involves a multidisciplinary team of specialists including oncologists, pathologists, hematologists, radiologists, surgeons, and genetic counselors – at a bare minimum. And mistakes can happen at any point along the way. Even good physicians can see things differently and offer different approaches based on their experienced. For these reasons alone, a second opinion is invaluable.

What does a second opinion might do for you?

May confirm the initial perspectives: There are many scans, tests, and reports that pass through many different specialists’ hands. Sending all of your diagnostic test results for a second opinion can give you peace of mind, where a second set of eyes may ratify your initial perspectives or offer additional insights.

Confidence: As noted earlier, there are many different types of cancer and within each category, there are numerous subtypes alongside wide ranging treatment plans.  Complex diagnoses with complex treatments and a second opinion can increase your confidence in the chosen treatment plan or explore other avenues.

Contemporary Treatments: Finally, a second opinion can uncover potential experimental treatments, clinical trials, or newer therapies that might not have been presented initially. The medical landscape is continually evolving, and a second opinion can provide access to the latest advancements in cancer care or offer more tailored options.

A second opinion doesn’t undermine your doctor. Instead, it empowers you. It gives you a fresh perspective, validation, and information to make a proactive and informed decision. A second opinion puts you charge of your care as you make your way through the odyssey of the unknown.

Game-Changing Consultations: Second Opinions in Cancer Care

Errors in cancer diagnosis are likely the most harmful and expensive types of diagnostic errors. Some studies reported that missed cancer diagnoses represents 46% of primary care diagnostic errors, most commonly from lung, colorectal, prostate, or breast cancer1. Misdiagnosis can lead to high severity harm, and some reports indicate that cancer represents 38% of high-severity harm among diagnostic error malpractice claim cases2.

A recent study was conducted on second opinions after newly diagnosed colorectal, head and neck, lung, and myeloma cancers3. It was found that in 35% of the cases, a second opinion often offered meaningful diagnostic and treatment changes with better expected patient outcomes. In 63% of the cases, the second opinion confirmed the outside diagnosis and treatment plan, giving patience reassurance when securing the second opinion. The study also found that only a subset of second opinions leading to meaningful treatment changes (35%) were due to meaningful diagnostic changes (11%).

Among the 35% of cases with positive, clinically meaningful treatment changes, all had expected improvement in short and/or long-term morbidity, and 9% also had improved expected prognosis. This finding suggests that the value of high-quality second opinions in oncology often derives from de-escalating or modifying treatment in ways that reduce morbidity from treatments.


Receiving a cancer diagnosis is often filled with shock, disbelief, anxiety, and emotional turmoil. Coping with the diagnosis often means dealing with uncertainty, fear of the unknown, including the side effects of treatment and the progression of the disease.

Understanding complex medical information, treatment options, and making informed decisions can be daunting during this difficult and frightening period.

A second opinion may give you peace of mind that you have considered all options.


Our website content is posted for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used for primary diagnoses-making and should not replace a consultation with a professional health care provider. If you have any health issues or complaints, please consult your primary physician. Healthcare data provided for informational purposes is not an alternative to an in-person physician consultation.

This website is an informative site that aims to offer its users find helpful information regarding a second opinion services that will be suitable for their medical condition. The content provided in this website is not and shall not be taken as expert or professional medical advice for any matter and is not an alternative to an in-person physician consultation. Our services are different from the diagnostic service typically provided by a physician, as the physicians do not have the benefit of information that would be obtained by examining you in person, observing your physical condition, or conducting diagnostic testing to the specifications of the physician. Therefore, the physician may not be aware of facts or information that would affect the physician ́s medical opinion of your condition. In some cases, these facts may be critical to the opinion. USARAD is not responsible for potential errors in opinion resulting from missing, incomplete, poorly translated or illegible records, or poor-quality images