Getting a Second Opinion on Prostate Cancer

You may be looking for a second opinion following a diagnosis of prostate cancer or before receiving a particular treatment. Second opinions are important as cancer is complex and consultants are often guided by interpretation and thoughts on treatment pathways to pursue.

Second opinions can reduce any stress or anxiety about your diagnosis and alleviate any doubt about treatment you elect to have, albeit active monitoring or more invasive surgery with potential harm and life-changing side effects.

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Can Prostate Cancer be Misdiagnosed?

In essence, a diagnosis is performed by a human and yes, humans are fallible although it is extremely rare in the case of prostate cancer. Initial tests usually start with a PSA test. PSA is a protein found in the blood, and high levels can often be an indicator that something is wrong with the prostate, although this is not always the case as other medical conditions and drugs can artificially increase the expected level.

At the time of your PSA blood test your consultant may perform a DRE (Digital Rectal Exam), this is when your doctor feels your prostate for size and any bumps and lumps. This is not an exact science and open to interpretation and is just one indicator that can support or detract from the diagnosis.

There are medical conditions that present similar symptoms that can lead to a misdiagnosis. These include BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) which is natural increase in prostate growth as you get older and can raise PSA levels. You may also have an infection of the prostate known as prostatitis, this can be painful and lead to blood in your urine and prostate inflammation. These are all valid reasons that can lead to a misdiagnosis.

Can I get a Prostate Cancer Second Opinion on the NHS? (UK)

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK does afford patients the possibility to get a second opinion on their prostate cancer diagnosis. The first step, is to simply ask your urologist that you would like second opinion either on the diagnosis or on the recommended treatment. This is becoming more the norm and they can refer you to another specialist. It is wise to get a second opinion as some treatment can have radical side effects and more conservative treatment may be an option; at least in the short-term.

Outside of the NHS, some prostate cancer charities also facilitate appointments with consultants and urologists for second opinions. Of course, you have the option to seek a private appointment with organisations such as Spire Health, Nuffield and BUPA.

It is important to note that if seeking a private appointment your specialist will need to see your medical information. This can be arranged with your GP surgery, simply ask at reception.

Can I get a Prostate Cancer Second Opinion without a Referral? (Insurance)

For insurance funded healthcare, getting a second opinion on prostate cancer without a referral can be difficult. Firstly, compare healthcare providers to see who specialises in urology and has experience of providing second opinions. Schedule an appointment and mention that you are seeking a second opinion. As a specialist, they may have more experience to guide you through the insurance process and advise on what information is needed from you.

As with all second opinions, the secondary consultant will need to have access to your medical records such as biopsies, medication, past surgery, and overall health. You should also confirm the estimated cost of the service and what percentage will be covered by your health insurance.

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