“For cancer cases, a Second Medical Opinion can be life-saving”


A specialist in paediatric immunology, oncology, haematology and bone marrow transplantation at Wrocław Medical University, Prof. Krzysztof Kałwak heads the paediatric transplant unit, the largest facility for paediatric haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Poland and one of the largest paediatric transplant units in all of Europe. Prof. Kałwak’s research and guidelines have been published widely throughout Poland and abroad and he is the National Coordinator for two paediatric illnesses, chronic myeloid leukaemia and congenital neurotropenia. Prof. Kałwak is a Medical Advisor to Best Doctors.

An Interview with Prof. Krzysztof Kalwak

Second Medical Opinions are a natural part of the diagnostic process, with doctors regularly consulting other doctors about their cases. How does having access to international experts improve on this practice?

A Second Medical Opinion from abroad can be hugely influential in ensuring that the local treating team arrives at the correct diagnosis, including carrying out testing to confirm or rule out the original diagnosis. It can also provide advice on the most appropriate, most effective and least toxic treatments based on the latest innovations and findings.

a photo of Prof. Krzysztof Kałwak

Why is this especially vital for cancer cases?

The longer it takes for patients to be correctly diagnosed, the longer it takes for them to start receiving the right treatment, which could potentially make a life-saving difference. In some cases, a second opinion can also make important treatment changes, perhaps avoiding potentially harmful or unnecessary treatments.

In oncology or haematology (the study and treatment of blood-related diseases) we base treatment on knowledge, experience and programmes which have been developed at international centres of excellence specialised in the coordination of cancer diagnosis and treatment. A Second Medical Opinion obtained from an expert practicing at such a facility provides a guarantee that the diagnostic and treatment processes are appropriate.

Why is repeat pathology testing so crucial?

Repeat pathology testing should be standard procedure for oncology cases. The analysis of a sample taken from the wrong place can lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Having a biopsy re-tested an internationally recognised laboratory ensures a higher probability of a correct diagnosis that will allow for the right treatment approach.

How can Second Medical Opinions help doctors to properly stage cancers?

A Second Medical Opinion is provided by a renowned expert using the most advanced technology and resources for immunohistochemical and molecular testing of cancerous tissue. In such circumstances, determining the stage of the cancer’s advance is easier and more precise, and this can be a major factor in determining the best treatment.

For rare tumours, why are Second Medical Opinions of particular importance?

A local histopathologist (responsible for performing diagnostic tumour testing) may not have sufficient experience in evaluating rare tumours. A detailed analysis by an expert experienced in treating such cases, often the world authority on that particular tumour type, and who has access to a world-leading laboratory facilitates a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

In addition to the expert medical advice received, how do local treating doctors and their patients benefit from Second Medical Opinions?

A family doctor and, in particular, an oncologist feel substantially more confident when they are treating a patient whose diagnosis is certain and whose treatment plan has been confirmed by a leading centre of reference. Such confidence is conducive to providing the best care possible to patients, especially in difficult or complex cases.

A Second Medical Opinion is also of considerable importance to the psychological state of patients and their families. It generates a feeling of trust and certainty that everything has been done to save the patient’s life and that the treatment programme has been chosen with the greatest of care.

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