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A diagnosis of cancer can be scary, and understanding a treatment plan confusing. To gain more information, it is sometimes wise to seek a second opinion or advice from another qualified cancer specialist or group of specialists before or even after you begin treatment.
If you are asked to consider alternatives, such as surgery or radiation or chemotherapy or hormone therapy, you might want to hear from each type of oncologist who gives that treatment. It’s all right to look at all your options. A second opinion could save your life or better protect your quality of life.
Options for getting a second opinion:
– Talk to a cancer specialist in another specialty or medical group.
– Ask that your case be presented to a tumor board or tumor conference at your hospital.
– Ask to get a second opinion on your pathology reading, especially if there is any controversy in making a complete diagnosis.
– Seek the advice of a renowned cancer expert usually in a comprehensive cancer center especially if your situation is complicated or uncommon.
For more information, see our companion website: www.patientresource.net. Here’s some of the content from patientresource.net that you may find useful:
Getting a second opinion involves asking another cancer specialist or group of specialists to review your medical records and confirm your doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Other specialists can confirm your pathology report and stage of cancer and might suggest changes or alternatives to the proposed treatment plan. They can also answer any additional questions you may have. There is often collective wisdom gained from the experience and opinions of different oncology specialists who are experts in your type of cancer.
There are lots of reasons for seeking a second opinion. Some doctors may favor one treatment approach, while others might suggest a different combination of treatments. Doctors in each oncology specialty bring different training and perspectives to cancer treatment planning. Another doctor’s opinion may change the diagnosis or reveal a treatment your first doctor was not aware of. You need to hear arguments for all of your treatment options. A second opinion is also a way to make sure your pathology diagnosis and staging are accurate, and that you are aware of clinical trials that you might want to consider.
If you are asked to consider alternatives, such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy, you might want to hear from each type of oncologist who provides that treatment. It’s all right to look at all your options; a second opinion could save your life or better protect your quality of life. Most doctors welcome another doctor’s opinion.
Second opinions are also valuable if you live in a small town or rural area where there may not be as many oncology specialists, especially if you have an uncommon type of cancer or might need a highly specialized or complicated type of care. If so, you may want to get an opinion from specialists at a larger medical center or comprehensive cancer center with particular expertise in treating your type of cancer.