Actress Rita Wilson, who recently announced her breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent double mastectomy, did the right thing when she sought out a second opinion. And doing so might have saved her life.
But too many of us are hesitant to question a medical diagnosis: a 2005 Gallup poll
that surveyed 5,000 Americans found that about half reported "never" seeking a second opinion and a paltry three percent always sought out a second opinion on a diagnosis, treatment, drug or operation.
Pretty frightening statistics, don't you think?
Years ago, when my own breast cancer diagnosis was still fresh, a woman I didn't know very intimately opened up to me during a play date for our sons. "I have a lump in my breast," she said, offhandedly. "Did you have a mammogram?" I asked. "Yes, and it was negative. So my doctor told me not to worry."
I must admit that I got a little -- no, a lot -- pushy (in retrospect, it was a good thing, but the fiery passion I felt was out of character for me). "Are you kidding? Don't take your doctor's word for it! Go get a second opinion!"
She did. And it was cancer.
Today, many years later, she's cancer-free. When we occasionally run into one another, we hug warmly, and she thanks me for that day.
According to studies, 30 percent of patients who sought second opinions for elective surgery and 18 percent of patients who whose insurance company required them to seek a second opinion found that the two opinions were not in agreement.
Here's another example of why second opinions are so important: a 2006 study found that when breast cancer patients came to a specialty center for a second opinion, recommendations for surgery changed for more than half, a result of different interpretations and readings of mammograms and biopsy results.
Why would anyone shy away from second opinions?
- They may feel that time is of the essence.
- They may fear that they'll insult their physician.
- They may feel like medicine is an exact science.
- They may fear they will be even more confused.
- They may not want to incur the added expense.
Now, go! What are you waiting for?
This post originally appeared on www.MySoCalledMidlife.net
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more