Have you recently been diagnosed with Throat Cancer? Are you worried about how your treatment is going? Do you think your diagnosis may be inaccurate? Does the advised treatment give you the jitters?
It is normal to have these concerns and rightfully so. If these questions prop up again and again in your mind, maybe it is time to consult another doctor for a second opinion. It’s not bad etiquette to consider a second opinion and you should never feel guilty about getting one.
This guide includes all the essential points for helping you get the most out of your second opinion for throat cancer.
Do you know enough about Throat Cancer?
Throat Cancer, also known as head and neck cancer originates in your larynx ( voice box) or pharynx (throat). It begins when the flat cells of the throat acquire mutations that lead to their uncontrollable growth. This can culminate in a tumor. If cancer spreads beyond the head and neck, it cannot be cured. But, when detected early, it is curable.
Some key facts about Throat cancer are
- More than 550,000 cases of throat and oral cancer are diagnosed annually all over the world.
- Pharyngeal and laryngeal are the most commonly found throat cancer.
- Hungary has the most number of cases of oropharyngeal cancer in the world.
- It is more prevalent in older people
- Common risk factors for throat cancer include smoking and viral infections
You may experience symptoms of throat cancer like
- Cough and sore throat
- Difficulty in speaking and swallowing
- Voice changes such as hoarseness
- Persistent earache
- Neck lump
- Weight loss
These symptoms may seem similar to the common cold and cough. But, if they persist for an unusually long time, it is essential to consult with an ENT specialist.
Some of the tests that you may be required to undergo for Throat Cancer diagnosis are
- Lab tests and physical exams: Your doctor will perform a physical exam to check for lumps in your neck. Usually, the mouth, tongue, and nose are inspected to detect the presence of abnormalities. This could be done with an endoscope. Though there are no specific tests that are routinely used for detecting throat cancer, the doctor advises some blood and urine tests.
- Biopsy: In this, your doctor will collect a tissue specimen from your larynx. This sample will be analyzed by your pathologist, who will determine the existence of cancer cells. A biopsy report could be a definitive diagnosis of throat cancer.
- Imaging test results: CT scans, MRI, and PET are used by doctors to study the spread of cancer beyond the pharynx or larynx.
Once you have received a diagnosis of Throat Cancer, you should try to find out as much as possible about your condition and treatment. Your doctor is your most reliable source of getting all the information you need.
Based on your doctor’s analysis of the stage and extent of the spread of your cancer, the following treatments for throat cancer can be advised
- Surgery: This treatment involves removing the tumor surgically. You must discuss the risks and necessity of surgery for throat cancer treatment with your doctor.
- Chemotherapy: This particular treatment uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy can have side effects and you must be aware of these before deciding to go through with it.
- Targeted Therapy: It is believed to be less toxic than chemotherapy, as the targeted therapy drugs work against the weaknesses found in cancer cells but not in normal cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy employs drugs that help your immune system kill cancer cells.
Your doctors may have provided you with all the above-mentioned information about throat Cancer and its management. But it is possible that you still feel that you don’t have enough knowledge to make the best decision about your health. When your primary doctor is unable to offer satisfactory answers, it is always best to get a second opinion from another skilled and experienced oncologist.
Is a Second Opinion for Throat Cancer necessary?
According to the WHO, around 138 million patients face the repercussions of a wrong diagnosis annually. Yes, you read that right! The numbers don’t lie, and medical negligence has emerged as a serious concern in recent years. This is where a Second Opinion can help. The stakes are quite high when it comes to cancer and you should be completely sure before beginning any treatment. There are several reasons for obtaining a Second Opinion for throat cancer:
- You have received suggestions for your treatment but are still indecisive about the course of action.
- You wish to know more about advanced treatments
- You can’t understand your doctor and want someone else to explain the disease and treatments to you.
- Your gut says that you should consult with someone more experienced
- You feel like your doctor is unable to grasp the seriousness of your diagnosis
- You want peace of mind and to be sure that you are on the right track
- You have decided on a particular treatment. But, that is unavailable in your region. You wish to explore the different countries where you can receive this treatment.
- Your insurance company is asking you to consult another specialist before beginning the treatment.
- You want to explore non-invasive treatments as opposed to the surgical options advised currently.
- Your throat cancer isn’t successfully responding to your ongoing treatment.
It is always recommended that a second opinion should be given by a doctor who specializes in treating throat cancer. This is not a trivial matter as many conditions can be misdiagnosed as Throat Cancer. These include
- Laryngitis: This is defined by the inflammation and swelling in the larynx. It is mostly temporary and can be caused by viral infections, smoking, and acid reflux. The symptoms of laryngitis include throat pain, hoarseness, speech problems, and low fever.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease: It occurs when stomach acid flows backward into the esophagus which is a tube that connects your mouth and the stomach. This acid reflux irritates the esophagus and can cause symptoms like chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and a feeling of a lump in your throat.
- Most upper respiratory infections also cause symptoms like cough and sore throat.
Getting ready for your Second Opinion
You should be well-prepared to obtain a beneficial second opinion. Here, we have prepared a checklist to help you navigate your Second Opinion process for throat cancer.
1. Before your Second Opinion
- Check the cost of the Second Opinion and if the insurance provider covers it.
- Discuss getting a second opinion with the current doctor
- Shortlist specialists who can provide a meaningful second opinion
- Search online for specialists or ask friends and family
- Check the credentials of the chosen specialist and read patient reviews
- Arrange all medical records and write down medical history
2. During the Second Opinion
Ask the right questions -This is a great chance to resolve all your doubts. Some questions you can ask for Throat cancer treatment are
- Is my recommended treatment the only available option for me?
- Do you think there are more advanced treatments?
- Can I get these alternative treatments in my country, or do I need to travel abroad for my treatment?
- Do I need to start treatment immediately?
- What are the advantages of the treatment you are advising?
- Write or record the conversation for future purposes
- Take someone who can help recall the discussion
3. After the Second Opinion
- Compare the treatment options
- Discuss with family and friends
- Ensure all doubts are resolved
MediGence’s role in Second Opinion for your Throat Cancer
We understand that finding the right ENT specialist and oncologist for your second opinion may seem nerve-racking. You need to consider many factors and you may feel short on time.
Here’s where MediGence comes in and helps you by:
- Providing a team of experts: You can put your worries about finding the right specialist to rest. MediGence arranges a team of board-certified oncologists who have expertise in throat cancer. They will go through your medical history, symptoms, and diagnostic test results. After careful analysis, a written report with their collective opinion will be given to you.
- Delivering report swiftly: Your second opinion report will reach you within 5 days.
- Making the process convenient: Our second opinion platform, ThinkTwice is integrated with an intelligent clinical workbench. This allows you to navigate the second opinion process and upload your DICOM files easily.
Cost of Second Opinion with MediGence
||Second Opinion Cost in USD
||Second Opinion with Telemedicine Cost in USD
The Next move after a Second Opinion
- If the second opinion doctors agree with your primary doctor, then you can decide on your treatment or continue with your treatment as planned.
- But, what to do when a second opinion differs from my current or recommended treatment?
- In such a case, you can follow the given steps:
- Weigh the treatment options advised by both your primary and second opinion doctor
- Choose the treatment option you find the most suitable
- Search hospitals where you can get the treatment
- If you feel that you may have to travel abroad for the treatment, discuss this possibility with your loved ones
- Find out the hospital, country, and doctor for your treatment. MediGence can assist you in finding the right oncologist and ENT specialists.
- Hopefully, this guide will help you in making an educated decision after gaining a second opinion about your throat cancer.