Evidence Based Medicine & Licensed Health Care Practitioners Are Vital
- Patients should rely on evidence based medicine from licensed US practitioners
- Healthcare practitioners and medical information should be rooted in data and evidence which vetted by licensed, qualified source
- Kimberly McCormick fell victim to a medical mishap after having elective plastic surgery in Tijuana, Mexico. Now she’s warning others about the dangers of medical tourism
- Getting a second opinion can help ensure that you get the best possible cancer care or surgical care for treatments such as plastic surgery.
- Research finds that a second opinion can change the diagnosis or course of treatment for some people with cancer.
McCormick woke up after her surgery in October, with an unwanted breast implants and a “Brazilian Butt Life,” a surgery which transfers fat to contour the buttocks, two procedures which she didn’t intend to have.Read More
McCormick revealed how after the wrong surgery was conducted, the medical team urged her to pay additional fees and held her at the hospital until she and her daughter paid what they allegedly owed.
The mom, who underwent a weight-loss surgery approximately six years ago, with no issues, said her recent horror story began when she woke up after surgery with her chest feeling “really sore.”
When she requested to speak with a medical coordinator she was told that at one point she requested a “full C,” however McCormick insists wasn’t the case.
Expert Resources On Avoiding Medical Mishaps
- Mistaken Breast Removal: 61-Year-Old Woman Awarded $400,000 For Negligent Misdiagnosis How To Avoid Terrible Medical Mishaps
- Be Pushy, Be Your Own Advocate… Don’t Settle
- Breast Reconstruction: Implants vs. Your Own Tissue
- ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Host Samantha Harris, 49, Says Breast Cancer Taught Her to Trust Her Gut and Get Second Opinions
- Cancer Research Legend Urges Patients to Get Multiple Opinions
- Second Opinions on Your Cancer Diagnosis or Treatment: Do You Need One?
- The Most Shocking Cancer Misdiagnoses of the Year; Why Second (and Third) Opinions Matter
Additionally, McCormick realized the loose skin wasn’t removed under her arms and thighs, and her doctor requested $2,500 for the surgery
When she didn’t want to pay the money, she was reportedly told, “Well, you don’t have to pay, but we can put you in prison.” However, McCormick said she couldn’t go to prison with “500 stitches.”
McCormick, who is now undergoing treatment in her hometown of Seattle, told the news outlet, “I don’t know what they charged me for, but it was $2,500 dollars. They actually took my card from me, the big goon guy, and gave it to somebody else and said run it, $2,500, and then they threw it back on my bed. They looked at the coordinator and said, ‘Get her out of here.’ It was that quick.”
She recounted that once her daughter paid and she left the hospital , she was ultimately taken to an emergency room in San Diego, California, where she was treated for an infection.
She continued, “I think I’m lucky that I’m here. I’m lucky the damage isn’t any worse.
“However, I’m looking at another surgery because the implants they put in are so big. I don’t have enough skin to enclose them. They are not healing.”
She now hopes her story will remind others to stay close to home when seeking out surgery or any type of medical procedures.
“I don’t care how enticing they make the offer, don’t do it,” she concluded. “Because, the end result is not going to be something you are happy with.”
Understanding Alternative Therapies
Following a cancer diagnosis, or a decision to undergo a surgical procedure like plastic surgery, many people will head to the Internet and search something to the effect of, “what’s the cure?” or what is the best surgery option?
Dr. Jason Westin, leader of the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma research team at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma, has an important message: don’t believe everything you read.
“Sadly, there’s a lot of information on the internet that’s not well-curated,” Dr. Westin said.
Many of the answers that will likely pop up on the Internet include what are known as “alternative therapies.” These refer to treatments that people may choose in place of conventional medicine, and they can range from mind-body approaches and diet and nutrition choices to supplements, healing crystals, Chinese medicine, and Ayurvedic medicine. They’re touted all over the internet, and they often sound too good to be true.
That’s because they probably are, according to Dr. Westin, who said, “If there were treatment options that weren’t based on chemotherapies or targeted therapies that worked well for our patients, sign me up!”
But it’s for a good reason that these therapies aren’t used at comprehensive cancer centers: they haven’t proven themselves effective in clinical trials, which are rigorous studies that test treatments in the population of people they’re intended to treat. Clinical trials test new treatments for safety and efficacy; every drug or treatment approved for widespread use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has to have gone through multiple phases of clinical trials.
“Many patients wonder, ‘are [doctors] hiding a treatment that might be good for us?'” Dr. Westin said, adding that the answer is, “Absolutely not.”
Dr. Westin explained that, if there were to be something out there that worked better than the proven treatment options that doctors usually use such as chemotherapy or targeted therapies researchers would be studying that something in clinical trials.
“And we are studying it,” he said. In fact, there are thousands of clinical trials underway studying new and potentially better treatment options.
Sometimes, the therapies or supplements you read about on the internet can be ok and maybe even beneficial if they’re used with conventional medicine, not in its place. These options make up “complementary medicine,” which, when its used in tandem with conventional medicine, is called “integrative medicine.” Many doctors believe in integrative medicine, so long as they remain in the loop and give their patients the go-ahead before combining anything new with their treatment.
But the majority of doctors tend to be in agreement about the fact that these options should never replace conventional treatment. In 2018, researchers out of Yale University substantiated this through a study published in JAMA Oncology that found that patients who choose alternative therapies in the place of conventional medicine are twice as likely to die from their cancers. But unfortunately, a survey that same year found that nearly 40 percent of people believe that alternative therapies alone such as vitamins, minerals, or diet can cure cancer.
But even if you weren’t planning on foregoing the treatment that your doctor prescribes as you try out something you read on the Internet, it’s absolutely vital that you talk to your doctor first. Your oncologists who know the specifics of your cancer and the way the treatments you’re taking work are the only ones who will be able to tell you whether that “cancer-curing” supplement is going to interact negatively with your actual treatment. It may, for instance, cause the treatment to be less effective, or may wind up being harmful, or causing debilitating side effects.
That’s why Dr. Westin is adamant: “Make sure if you’re finding information the internet about something that sounds too good to be true, talk to your doctor about it,” he said, adding that, in addition to not being effective, these therapies can often cost a lot of money.
The Impact of Comprehensive Cancer Centers
Major cancer centers across the nation house leading cancer experts which include surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, and radiologists among other cancer-related specialists. At these specialized hospitals, these experts convene to form a tumor board where they discuss cancer patients’ individual cases in great detail. They all work in conjunction and optimize your treatment plan.
“There are some advantages to being treated in a university setting or a major cancer center,” Dr. Ken Miller tells SurvivorNet.
Dr. Miller is Director of Outpatient Oncology at the University of Maryland, Greenebaum Cancer Center, and a member of the Thoracic Oncology Group.
“Pretty much automatically there’s going to be a team approach, surgical oncology, medical, and radiation oncology, and all the support services, and also wonderful pathology and radiology and all the services you need,” Dr. Miller continued.
The National Cancer Institute provides a list of all cancer centers in the United States.
Getting a Second Opinion
One of the greatest cancer researchers of our time says get a second (or third) opinion when you are diagnosed with cancer, and learn about all of your options.
Being proactive about your health is one of the most vital lessons one could learn in life.
“What would you do if someone in your family got cancer?” We put that question to some of the most renowned cancer doctors in the country.
National Cancer Institute Chief of Surgery Steven Rosenberg recommends seeking out multiple professional opinions to confirm a diagnosis and figure out the options.
As we highlight in several areas of SurvivorNet, highly respected doctors sometimes disagree on the right course of treatment, and advances in genetics and immunotherapy are creating new options.
Also, in some instances the specific course of treatment is not clear cut. That’s even more reason why understanding the potential approaches to your disease is crucial.
If you’ve exhausted options in treating very advanced cancer, there is a huge new wave of clinical trials. Some offer genuine hope. You should know the data and the risks.
The best recommendation is to push your doctor to help you look for appropriate options. You can also use clinicaltrials.gov, which is the national registry of trials, but it’s vast and a bit hard to navigate.
The National Cancer Institute, which has a long track record of pushing the envelope on new treatments, has a patient referral service that helps guide patients so they can gain access to experimental therapies and clinical trials.
Other reasons to get a second opinion include:
- To see a doctor who has more experience treating your type of cancer, or following through with the type of surgical procedure you need
- You have a rare type of cancer
- There are several ways to treat your cancer
- You feel like your doctor isn’t listening to you, or isn’t giving you good advice
- You have trouble understanding your doctor
- You don’t like the treatment your doctor is recommending, or you’re worried about its possible side effects
- Your insurance company wants you to get another medical opinion
- Your cancer isn’t improving on your current treatment
Bottom line, being proactive about your health could be a matter of life or death. Learn as much as you can from as many experts as you can, so that you know that you did your best to take control of your health.
How to Seek Out Another Opinion
If you’re battle cancer, depending on the cancer center you visit, the process of getting a second opinion could be streamlined. Multidisciplinary cancer centers offer a variety of interventions — surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, etc. — under one roof. There, you may be encouraged to meet with several doctors during the course of the diagnostic process.
If you don’t have the benefit of being at one of those centers, ask the doctor who diagnosed you for a referral. Don’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings. Oncologists are used to having their patients ask for second opinions. In fact, many of them welcome it.
Ask an oncology social worker at your current hospital to help you navigate the process of getting a second opinion. You can also seek out another opinion on your own, by searching for cancer specialists in your area through an organization like the American Society for Clinical Oncology.
For your second opinion, consider seeing a doctor who has a different specialty than the person who first diagnosed you. If you saw an oncologist the first time, you might visit a surgeon, radiologist, or medical oncologist the second time around.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to stop at a second opinion. Provided that you have the time and financial resources, you may want to go ahead and get a third or a fourth opinion. Just don’t get so many opinions that your treatment options overwhelm you.
With each new doctor you visit, bring a copy of your:
- Pathology report from your biopsy or surgery
- Surgical report
- Imaging tests
- Treatment plan that your current doctor recommended
Will My Insurance Cover the Cost?
Most health insurance companies will cover the cost of a second opinion. Still, it’s a good idea to find out if yours does before you visit a new doctor.
Ask your insurance company how much of your visit will be covered (consultation, tests, etc.), and what you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Also make sure the doctor you plan to visit is in network. Otherwise, you could wind up with unexpected bills.
What to Do With Your Second Opinion
If the opinions of the doctors you see are in alignment, it will serve as reinforcement that your first doctor was correct. If they differ, you may need to dig a little deeper to figure out which of the recommended treatment options to pursue.
Ask each doctor how they arrived at their recommendation, and what research supports it. Find out if they’re willing to review your case together and discuss their suggestions. You might also ask a third expert to weigh in.
Make sure that, no matter which doctors you end up seeing, you feel completely comfortable with the diagnosis and recommendations they’ve given you before you start on a treatment.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff