Importance of a Second Opinion for Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States; the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 135,000 cancer deaths in the US in 2020. (

If you were ever exposed to asbestos and have lung cancer, it is vital to know that your lung cancer could have been caused by asbestos exposure. Exposure to the dangerous substance usually causes mesothelioma in some people, which is a cancer of the lung or abdominal lining.

But there are cases where asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer by itself as well as mesothelioma.

Unfortunately, some physicians may be unaware that your lung cancer may have been caused by asbestos exposure. They also may not be familiar with diagnosing and treating mesothelioma. That is the reason a second opinion is a good idea.

What Causes Asbestos Lung Cancer?

People usually associate lung cancer with cigarette smoking. But asbestos also has been proven to cause the devastating cancer. Employees who worked directly with asbestos-containing products or in locations where the materials were used are at the greatest risk of getting asbestos lung cancer. (

Also, people who worked with asbestos and smoked have a higher risk of getting lung cancer.

Research indicates that for every year a worker was exposed to asbestos, their lung cancer risk goes up as much as 4%.

Industrial workers, auto mechanics, construction workers, and military veterans are among the highest risk groups for asbestos-caused lung cancer.

Why Get a Lung Cancer Second Opinion?

Getting a lung cancer diagnosis is scary, and you may not be thinking clearly for a time after you get this grim news. But it is important to consider if you were ever exposed to asbestos in your work history. If so, it is possible your lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure. If your doctor does not mention the possibility of asbestos causing your cancer, it may be time to get a lung cancer second opinion.

Remember: It is critical for each cancer patient to take their prognosis in their own hands. This can include getting a second opinion to determine if asbestos exposure caused your lung cancer. Consider:

  • A second opinion can improve your survivability. If your lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, you may need to have different treatments than for regular lung cancer. The second doctor may determine that your asbestos-caused lung cancer is small cell or non-small-cell, which is important to know for your treatment plan.
  • Many doctors may assume that your lung cancer was caused by smoking or secondhand smoke. They may not consider that your cancer was caused by asbestos exposure because it is so rare.
  • If you can prove that your lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation in a personal injury lawsuit or by applying for compensation through an asbestos personal injury trust. The second opinion may confirm that the cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, which can be used as proof in a lawsuit or claim so you and your family can be compensated by the negligent company.
  • Feeling certainty. Getting a second opinion about your lung cancer gives you a feeling of certainty about what caused it, whether it was asbestos exposure, smoking, or something else.

How to Ask for a Second Opinion

Patients may be hesitant to ask for a second opinion because they think it is a sign of disrespect to the doctor. But second opinions – especially in lung cancer and mesothelioma cases – are often needed.

Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure is rare, and few doctors have the expertise to diagnose and treat it.  Getting a second opinion is also the ultimate way to take your healthcare in your own hands.

As a patient, you can tell your regular doctor or oncologist that you want a second opinion. Sometimes the doctor will recognize he is not a specialist in asbestos cancers and will tell you to get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in asbestos-caused cancers. ( The doctor may have seen an abnormal x-ray or symptoms and recognize you need a second opinion for possible asbestos-caused lung cancer.

Sometimes the patient may need to travel if an asbestos cancer doctor does not work near them. Needing to travel should not prohibit your cancer treatment options. In some cases, the doctor will talk to the patient for free before you need to arrange for travel.

You also can get a second opinion by doing a search in your insurance network for doctors experienced in asbestos-caused cancers, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Few Asbestos Cancer Specialists in the United States

Mesothelioma is diagnosed in only 3,000 patients per year, and asbestos-caused lung cancer is also rare. There are fewer specialists available in these cancers than others. Because both cancers are so uncommon cancer centers and doctors may strongly disagree on how to treat them.

So, a second opinion on your cancer can shed more light on possible treatments than you originally thought.

Second Opinion Summary

A lung cancer diagnosis is serious and the prognosis is poor, but your chances of living longer increase if the cancer is properly diagnosed.

If you were exposed to asbestos and have a lung cancer diagnosis, it is necessary to get a second opinion to determine if it was caused by asbestos exposure. If this can be proven, you may be able to receive compensation from the company that exposed you, including money for medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

A doctor specializing in asbestos-caused cancers knows how to tell the difference between regular lung cancer and cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The specialist will use your medical history, history of asbestos exposure, imaging scans, biopsies, histology, and genetic tests to make the most accurate diagnosis.

So, please be sure to get your second opinion as soon as you can. It could extend your life considerably. (