Second Opinions: Trusting Your Prostate to One Physician

My philosophy is that you should always seek a second opinion if it involves major surgery, maybe a third one if the first two opinions disagree or if it’s something life threatening, like cancer.  I did this for a reconstructive knee surgery back in 1994.  I ended up seeing one of the premier orthopedic surgeons in the country.  In retrospect, it may or may not have been worth it.  My knee is fine and my recovery was quicker than the other patients doing physical therapy for the same surgery, at the same time.  On the other hand, the trips to and from the University of Chicago hospital were a bit of a hassle for me and my family.  Plus, it was an arthroscopic surgery that was pretty standard.  I may well have gotten the same result with a local surgeon at a nearby hospital.  We have done the same for my wife for a surgery on a pituitary tumor and a on herniated disc, mostly because we were not reassured at all by the first opinion.  In the case of the tumor (which was benign), our trip to Northwestern University’s hospital was one of the best decisions we ever made.  Going to all this work to find out if a biopsy is necessary is probably a bit extreme, but I also have in mind what the next step might be.

You can’t really get a second opinion on the internet.  I suspect the legal ramifications are too great for physicians to give specific advice without a personal consultation.  You can, however, get more general advice and possibly learn whether or not another professional opinion is needed.  I did just this.  One such resource is AllExperts.com.  You can ask questions anonymously and then determine if you need to see a specialist or get another opinion.  Dr. Leslie gave me some very sound advice that was very helpful to me.  Medhelp is another similar resource.  I’m sure there are a number of other “Ask a Urologist” or “Ask an Oncologist” type of websites on the internet that may be also helpful to men with prostate issues.  You can also search for studies, research and articles by physicians.  If you find an expert who has knowledge specific to your situation, you can always call their office or email them (or their assistant) to see if you can schedule a consultation or get additional information.

There’s also the old fashioned method.  Do some legwork and find out who the most reputable and experienced prostate surgeons are in your own area.  Ask your primary doctor(s).  Ask friends.  Search on the internet to see who is authoring papers or who may have recommended  a doctor on a website or blog.  If you find a doctor, ask them how many successful surgeries they have done, of the exact type they suggest for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals of satisfied patients.  You might do this for a home contractor, so you should certainly do this for fixing your body.  It doesn’t hurt to ask! 

I used this method, too.  I have scheduled an appointment with Dr. William Catalona for another opinion, though it’s not for some time as I want to be sure I have all the results (including a possible MRI or biopsy) ready so as to get appropriate advice.  Yeah, I’m planning a little bit ahead.  I’d rather not find out I need surgery, then have to wait two months to see a specialist for a second opinion!  This has happened to us in the past.  Dr. Catalona was very helpful in giving me some general information, considerably more than I was able to get from my local urologist.  I also recommend his website that is also a charitable foundation.

I’ll report again in a month or two, after I have more results and a better idea of what is going on.

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