Ask the Doctor Question:
I am 73 years old and was recently diagnosed with CLL. I live in Twin Falls, Idaho. Other than cancer, I am in good health. I see an oncologist-hematologist in nine-days. After reviewing my tests and consulting with the oncologist, my general practice doctor believes I am in the “wait and see” Stage. The oncologist will review my test with me and discuss staging and prognosis. My general practitioner has indicated that the oncologists-hematologists at St. Luke’s Cancer Center are experienced in treating CLL and that this is not difficult to treat. How important is it to have another doctor, perhaps from a larger cancer facility, review my test, the oncologist’s notes, staging, etc., and give a second opinion? My Medicare Advantage Plan allows me to access cancer facilities in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. My preference is to stay close to home, but I want to be sure I am pointed in the right direction.
Answer: It is extremely important that you see a CLL Expert, if at all possible, defined as a physician who primarily only sees CLL patients in their practice (not just all types of cancer patients). Studies have proven that having a CLL expert manage your care improves outcomes. Here is a list of CLL Experts from across the country:
If you cannot arrange to see a CLL Expert, then I think you would benefit from our free online Expert Access program that would allow a CLL expert to provide a one-time review of your medical records, and then a 30-minute HIPAA compliant online visit to answer questions and to provide ideas and notes to take to the local treating doctor. A diagnosis of CLL and USA residency are the only requirements. Here is the link to apply:
Also, here is a great article for you to look at regarding “Watch and Wait” and when to consider treatment: