Seek a second opinion, and then perhaps a third

August 8, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

RE “MISTAKES that matter’’ (Metro, Aug. 2): I can empathize with the gentlemen who suffered life-changing medical misdiagnoses. I too was mistakenly diagnosed, in my case with cancer of the esophagus. I was well on my way to a “minimally invasive’’ removal of my esophagus when I decided to look on the Internet to pursue cures that were not so radical.

Having undergone a successful treatment of prostate cancer that did not involve surgery but rather brachytherapy (high-intensity localized radiation), I searched for cancer centers that could treat cancer of the esophagus similarly. I found the Center for Complex Digestive Disease at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where, after a course of three endoscopies, they concluded that while I did suffer from a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, there was no evidence of cancer.

This all occurred three years ago, and I have since undergone endoscopies at six-month intervals, all confirming the absence of cancer. I conclude with the following recommendations: When confronted with a life-threatening medical assessment, do not rely on a single diagnosis, and, when getting a second opinion, go outside the network, even to another city.

Irving Sacks

JONATHAN SALTZMAN reported that a man recently had needless prostate surgery because of a mix-up in test results (“Mistakes that matter,’’ Metro, Aug. 2). Getting a second (or third) opinion might have averted that unfortunate result.

In my case, after the pathologist at the first hospital indicated that my prostate biopsy slides were “suspicious for cancer,’’ I took them to a second hospital. Reviewing the very same slides, the pathologist there said that I definitely had prostate cancer. Rolling the dice one more time, I took the slides to a third hospital, where the slides were pronounced “highly suspicious for prostate cancer.’’

Satisfied that I really do not (yet) have prostate cancer, I’m on a program of so-called active surveillance — being tested regularly — but I’m not jumping the gun with potentially needless surgery.

Edgar Dworsky

More opinions

Find the latest columns from: