Second Opinion Matters With Breast Cancer

Study finds it may offer women improved treatment

THURSDAY, Dec. 4, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Getting an expert second opinion on mammograms may offer women improved breast cancer detection and treatment, says a University of Michigan (U-M) Health System study.

The study found women with breast cancer who sought a second opinion on their mammograms from experienced specialists at a major cancer center frequently received a new cancer treatment plan.

It also found 7 percent of the women who got a second opinion learned they had more cancer in the same breast or had a previously undiscovered tumor in the other breast.

The findings were presented Dec. 4 at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago.

The researchers examined the medical records of 148 women who came to the university's Breast Care Center for a consultation after they were diagnosed or treated for breast cancer at other medical centers.

Two-thirds of the patients had additional imaging performed, usually a combination of mammograms and ultrasound. Those additional images were used by radiologists to further evaluate the tumor and the remainder of the breast.

In 45 percent (67) of the patients, the U-M team came up with an interpretation that differed from the original. That resulted in different recommendations for 43 of the patients, such as additional or different biopsy procedures, additional follow-up imaging, and changes to treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

"Although many patients' diagnostic and treatment plans stayed the same after a consultation, enough of them changed that we see added value from seeking the opinion of a specialized team with extensive experience," lead author Dr. Amy Rochester Guest says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Dec. 4, 2003
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