Why You Should Get a Second Opinion on Breast Cancer
7 minute read
Breast cancer is a diagnosis that women dread. The recent increase in awareness for the disease, however, has led to more women self-testing, getting regular checkups, and seeking professional opinions.
Because of the drive to stay ahead of and beat breast cancer, women are essentially fighting back. While research makes progress into the fight, it’s not always obvious what exactly is happening. With early diagnosis and treatment being so essential, many people want to do everything they can.
In keeping with this, research is showing that getting a second opinion is necessary to be better prepared for the fight.
Benefit of a Multi-Faceted Approach to Breast Cancer
It should come as no surprise that medical professionals will disagree. With all the different medical specialties and training, each profession is bound to see things from a different perspective.
When it comes to breast cancer, there are a host of professionals that could weigh in on a diagnosis. Pathologists, geneticists, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists, and breast cancer nurses are just a few that get to share their expertise when it comes to breast cancer cases.
Differences will emerge regarding diagnosis, recommended treatment, and prognosis.
Recent studies have found that when second opinions have been sought, additional cancers have been located, tumors were mobile, or metastasis had occurred. Any of these findings would result in a different prognosis and treatment regimen.
Going ahead based on only one diagnosis could leave you fighting a no-win battle.
When you seek additional information and opinions, you get a chance for new insight and a fresh perspective. This may identify more danger, but it is better to know rather than follow a treatment plan that is only taking care of half of the problem.
The more complete of a picture you have, the more effective your treatment can be, and the more likely your success.
Reducing Your Risk
Having the opinions of several professionals will certainly help with correctly diagnosing and treating breast cancer, there is also plenty you can do in the fight.
Knowing what you can do to lower your risk goes a long way in protecting your health. Here are some tips:
Limit Alcohol Intake: The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for breast cancer will be. This doesn’t mean you have to cut out drinking completely, but limiting your intake benefits your overall health and provides a little extra protection from breast cancer.
Quit Smoking: Numerous studies have found that a link between breast cancer and smoking dies exist. Smoking is linked to heart disease, lung cancer, and other serious health conditions, so quitting benefits you across the board.
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Watch Your Weight: Your risk for breast cancer increases with excessive weight and obesity. The risk is greater later in life, especially after menopause, so it is advised to follow a balanced diet to help keep weight at optimal levels.
Avoid Radiation Exposure: Medical-imaging and testing equipment uses radiation and prolonged or frequent exposure can increase your risk for breast cancer. While these tests are often necessary, you should make a note to only get them done when absolutely necessary.
Stay Active: Getting regular exercise can help you to keep those pesky extra pounds off, which helps prevent breast cancer. Ideally you want to incorporate cardio workouts with small amounts of strength training.
Limit Hormone Therapy: While this does not apply to everyone, many women do require hormone therapy. When used for five years, hormone therapy increases your risk for breast cancer.
With that in mind, you may want to look for alternatives to manage your menopause symptoms. Short-term use and minimal doses can help ease uncomfortable menopause symptoms.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding not only benefits the health of the child, but can significantly reduce your risk for breast cancer.
Birth Control: Some evidence has been found to link birth control to breast cancer risks. The release of extra hormones from IUDs and birth control pills increases your risk, so you should evaluate the pros and cons of birth control before using.
Family History: When there is a strong family history for breast cancer, your risk is going to be greater. It is important to know your family history, so you can consult a doctor and genetic counsellor regarding your options.
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If you have a strong family history, it is advised to undertake as many prevention methods as you can to keep your risk as low as possible.
A Healthy Diet: Several studies have found that a good diet plays an important role in improving overall health and reducing the risk of breast cancer.
A healthy and balanced diet consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, lean proteins, fresh fish, whole grains, and olive oil has been shown to not only improve overall health, but contributes to reduction in your risk for heart disease, stroke, and cancers.
Screenings, Screenings, Screenings: The best approach to preventing breast cancer is to get regular screenings. You can perform self-checks at home, but make sure you get professional screenings done regularly.
Because the risks increase with age, get regular mammograms starting at age 40. The frequency with which you need them depends on your specific risk factors. Screenings help identify cancer early, so that your chances of successful treatment are much higher.
The Bottom Line
With breast cancer affecting one in eight women, it is necessary to give women the best chance possible. The best solution to any problem is to look at it from all angles before moving ahead and this applies to cancer just as it would a common math problem.
Seeking a second and even third opinion and incorporating multiple disciplines will give you a clearer picture of cancer, helping uncover the best chances of success and survival.