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Importance of 2nd opinions??


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I am new here, this is my 1st post. To be quite honest with you I am a little overwhelmed and emotional, so my post may wander or not make sense etc

My mom was just diagnosed with lc (nonsmall cell) She is 72 years old and everything to me. The family is in shock and on the emotional rollercoaster. It is hard to get a lot of information out of my mom or dad...they cant handle talking about it for too long or too often

All I know is....

They say it is inoperable. Its in the lower left lung. She had fluid drained from it, they found cancerous cells within the fluid. This is why it is inoperable ...I dont understand that. A pet scan showed some lymph nodes involved...I believe 3. Two of them right by the infected lung, and one up towards the neck. No signs of anything anywhere else. They say she is Stage 3 or 4. That is as specific as they got......they never even mentioned the 'type' of cancer other than non small cell

She started chemo 3 weeks ago. She is on Taxol and Irbitux (a medical trial of the combo) After being sick from dehydration (which has been addressed), she is now doing ok with the chemo

I dont know what we should do to be 'smart' about this. I guess that is my question to all of you. Should we see several drs? Would that make a difference? We are in Georgia, I dont believe any of our hospitals are known for their work with cancer. Should we visit a reputable clinic out of state?

Is it possible for one dr to find someone inoperable and another dr to find them operable? Is the surgery so invasive that maybe her age is reason?? Do they do any kind of less invasive surgery...like laser? And even if the cancer is in a nearby node, why wouldnt they want to remove the main tumor? Or the nodes?!? Wouldnt it be better to get rid of as much of it as possible??

Oh...she isnt doing radiation either. I dont know why, but that wasnt a suggested option

I am sorry for rambling, but I am lost here. Any help would be greatly appreciated

Thank you and my best to you all,


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Hello - I don't have many answers for you but I am so SORRY about your mom. Second opionions I think are almost necassary. My moms onc automatically without us asking sent her for a second opionion. Sorry I have no idea about reputable cancer treatments in Georgia but I say get a second opionion to make sure that Drs. agree. Find out why no radiation also. I don't know much but I can admit that :wink:


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Heidi, not knowing is alright....I just thank you for answering

I wish you the very best of luck with your mom

I was unable to go with the famiy to the 'big' doctors appointment a month ago when everythng was explained. I regret it now, but at the time it was best that I not go. I was too emotional to be of any use whatsoever. I have so many questions though!!!

I have mentioned a 2nd opinion to my mom, she said she'd give it thought. It is hard though...you dont want to push them or pressure them or stress them in any way. But I want us to all be educated about this so that we dont look back and say 'if only'

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Well, I certainly am an advocate for second opinions. In fact, I had FOUR of them. I kept going until I found a doctor/surgeon who was willing to help me.

As for your mother's age....I don't know what may be thought about that.

Maybe if you Google top cancer hospitals you may find one in the top 50 that would be in an area you could get to, don't know.

Best of luck with helping yur parents. I know it is a difficult thing for you to do. You are a wonderful son/daughter.


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Dear J,

I agree completely with Kasey suggesting that you do a google search for Cancer Centers in the Georgia area. I'm sure you'll find good medical help in the region. Keep looking. When you see the dr. take notes, have someone with your Mom to ask questions and really "listen". I know that's hard, but your Mom won't be listening, so you need to have someone else with her. Ask specific questions - what type of cancer, what stage, what is the standard treatment for HER specific cancer. Also look at the NCI (National Cancer Institute) website for info.


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Your mom is lucky to have you there asking the important questions!

We have sought second opinions when we felt they were necessary. You bring up a good point, though, in that whatever you do has to fit in your mom's comfort level. Sometimes that is hard for us caregivers, to remember that our Moms (or whomever) love us, but these decisions are ultimately theirs to make.

It's easy to second guess medical decisions. At least you won't have to second guess if your mom knows she has your love!

:) kelly

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Hello J, It is always a shock to find out you or a loved one has cancer. Sounds like your mom has a wonderful blessing through you. Second opinions are good becuse they often confirm the diagnosis and treatment plan. I went to MD Anderson after being diagnosed here in Lubbock and they said that they couldn't suggest anything different than what the onc here was doing. We came on home and have been very satisfied. I too was not offered any treatment except chemo. Apparently the cancer was spread through the whole lung pluera so surgery and radiation were not an option. Chemo kept me stable but no improvement until Iressa was started. I also take supplements called Immunasist and Transfactor plus which have helped the Iressa work. Staying informed is very important because then you can ask the docs questions about treatment and responses. Will be praying for you J,your mom and dad. pammie

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Welcome, J

I did a little internet searching and came up with this list from Augusta Magazine's Best Doctors of 2004:

Medical Oncology and Hematology

Stephen Michael Shlaer

1348 Walton Way, Ste. 6700

Augusta, GA 30901-2616


Radiation Oncology

Arlie Eugene Fiveash Jr.

Georgia Radiation Therapy Center

821 Saint Sebastian Way

Augusta, GA 30912


Surgical OncologyVendie Hudson Hooks III

Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates

1348 Walton Way, Ste. 6500

Augusta, GA 30901


Karen Anne Yeh

2258 Wrightsboro Rd., Ste. 430

Augusta, GA 30904


If Augusta is far away, I'd call the doctor's offices and ask them to recommend somebody nearer you - seems like doctors meet each other at conferences, etc., and the recommendation of a "Best Doctor" would give confidence.

Hope this helps.


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Thank you all!!

I will be back later to respond properly, right now I am rushing to meet my mom while she receives her chemo (every thursday)

It was a huge support to wake this morning and find all of your replies

thank you~

(ps, I'd use my full name, but for now I feel more comfortable in using 'J' just in case other family members stumble across the site. It is nothing personal)

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I would suggest that you look into traveling to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and try to get your Mom in to see Dr.David Carbone.

I'm sure there are good doctors in Georgia, but the truth is all of those I know who have had their medical care in the state of Georgia (including Emory) have not been very happy with their care. Most were urged by family members to leave the state to be evaluated by specialists elsewhere for treatment. I don't like making generalizations about things, but I believe your Mom's best interests lie at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN, University of Alabama in Birmingham, or Duke in North Carolina. I will tell you know people who live in both Alabama and North Carolina who travel to Tennessee to meet with Dr. Carbone and his Lung Cancer staff.

Just my ten cents on the subject. Your Mom is most fortunate to have you to research all of this on her behalf.

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Thank you Fay for your honesty. I discussed Duke with mom just this week. A dear friend of hers recieves cancer treatment their (breast and lymphomia) She is doing remarkibly well. Nashville is a 3 hour trip, Duke is a day trip, but visiting her friend might be an incentive!

She goes in for another round of scans (pet etc) in 2 weeks...she will be getting them every 6 weeks during treatment. She might be more willing to discuss options at that time

John, the hosiptal she goes to is a 'branch' of Emory. It is only 10 minutes from the house, very convienent for treatments. I think thats why she felt so comfortable with them, close to home and less upheavel. We will have to weigh the pros and cons of that though

Leslie, thank you for doing that search. I am ready to make some calls in the am!

Pammie, what you explained about the 'lung plurea' sounds familiar. I think the case is the same with my mom. And yes, even if the 2nd opinion comes back exactly the same it will at least give us more confidence and keep some of the second guessing at bay

Joanie, Kelly and Kasey, thank you for the advice. Kasey, I've been reading around the site for days now and came across your story. I can see why you are an advocate for 2nd (and 3rd..) opinions!!! In fact, your posts gave me a lot to think about

In short I wanted to give a little more info on my mom that I learned today. She is on Taxol and Carbo which she gets once a month. Every week she gets a biotherapy drug called irbitux (related to the Martha Stewart Imclone stock disaster) She is part of a national study. She gets blood workups once a week and pet and cat sacns every 6 weeks. More importantly, she is a wife of 48 years (and going) and a mother of two loving daughters

Thanks again!!

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I also suggest Emory Hospital. I went to law school at Emory and Emory Hospital has a good reputation. It cannot hurt to get a second opinion in case another doctor is willing to be more agressive.......even a second opinion from someone else at Emory is a good idea since you are giong to a branch how.

For my mom, at first they were not sure about surgery, moving too slow, so I got her into somewhere else (affiliated with same hospital) and they were more agressive and she acheived remission.

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