Second Opinion? Don’t Be Afraid to Get One!
So you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer. Now what? Most likely, your doctor will either want to remove the cancerous area or refer you to another doctor for removal. It’s important to remember that there isn’t a “one size fits all” treatment plan, however, and you need to make sure you’re comfortable with what your doctor is recommending.
Explore your options
In 1995, I scheduled an appointment with my dad’s dermatologist to have an area on my face examined. The area was smaller than the width of a pencil eraser, but it would bleed, scab over, then continue the process, never healing. During the appointment, the dermatologist glanced at it and said (rather bluntly) “you have skin cancer and I’m going to do radiation.” Not only did the diagnosis take me by surprise, as I wasn’t expecting it, but the thought of radiation directly under my eye was unsettling. Instead of immediately agreeing to that, I told the doctor I would be back in touch, and I then researched skin cancer and treatment options. While this particular doctor worked out great for my dad, I didn’t feel he was the right fit for me. Fortunately, one of my friends was able to get me an appointment with a plastic surgeon, who was a friend of his and whom he highly recommended. I was extremely comfortable with this doctor, who told me that radiation directly under my eye would not be a good idea and he recommended surgically removing the area. That plastic surgeon was then my doctor for the next twenty years, treating my recurrent skin cancer, until his retirement the end of 2015.
Do not be shy about voicing your concerns and your wishes to your doctor, and do not feel obligated to stay with a physician with whom you’re not completely comfortable. You are the patient, you will be the one to go through the procedures and treatments, and you need to be in agreement with your doctor and your treatment plan.
Have you taken our Beyond the Cancer Diagnosis Survey?