KANSAS CITY, Mo — A 2018 study finds a dramatic increase in the survival rate among breast cancer patients who get a second opinion at a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center.
There are 71 NCI Designated Cancer Centers in the U.S. KU Hospital is one of them -- funded by the National Cancer Institute to deliver cutting edge treatments to save lives, and getting a second opinion is a crucial part of that success.
Leslie McGuire was 30 years old when she felt a lump in her breast. She wasn't super concerned because she just had a baby and thought it was a post-pregnancy issue.
“And so I went right before work. I didn’t tell my family. I didn’t tell my husband. I didn't tell my work," she said. "I just thought I would go in and out of my doctor's appointment, and I would move on with my day."
Instead of moving on, McGuire stopped in her tracks because she had cancer.
Although her oncologist and surgeon didn't agree on the exact type of cancer in McGuire's breast, she was prescribed a treatment regiment that would require her to be on medication for 10 years, dashing her hopes of having more children.
“When they both came back with a different type of cancer, that caused a lot of confusion, and my mom suggested I get a second opinion at the University of Kansas Cancer Center,” McGuire said.
"You should never feel guilty about getting a second opinion," Dr. Jamie Wagner said. "Sometimes I am the second opinion. Sometimes patients ask if they should get a second opinion, and I wholeheartedly tell them, 'Yes, you should.'"
Wagner was part of a specialized team at KU that assessed McGuire and diagnosed her with aggressive triple negative breast cancer.
A 2018 study found 47% of breast cancer patients who sought second opinions at a NCI Designated Cancer Centers needed additional imaging, which
changed the diagnosis in 23% of patients.
“Understanding the cancer better, maybe putting together a treatment plan a little bit different, it could have made a significant impact on their outcome,” Wagner said.
And that's why baby Franklyn, now 5, has a brother named Freddy. McGuire's course of treatment at KU Hospital included reproductive options and when her treatment was over, it was over. No long-term affects.
Now the proud mom of two is celebrating an exciting milestone. She's been cancer free for 5 years.
"The second opinion absolutely saved my life -- and it brought me my son's life."