Decisions about cancer treatment are personal, and you need to feel comfortable about your choices.
When receiving information about your treatment plan, it is important to trust your instincts. Many people are afraid to ask their doctors for a second opinion, but it is in your best interest to do so. Everyone has the right. Scroll down to learn when and how to ask their doctor for a secondary referral.
When to ask for a second opinion
1. You have a gut feeling that you've been misdiagnosed.
2. You don't have confidence in your doctor(s).
3. Your doctor isn't willing to answer your questions.
4. Your doctor isn't giving you enough information about your treatment options.
5. You feel as though you're being forced into an expensive or new type of treatment.
6. You'd like reassurance that you're receiving the best treatments available.
How to get a second opinion...
Your doctor (or specialist), is the only one that can refer you for a second opinion. Explain that this is how you like to make big medical decisions. Don't worry about offending your doctor. Asking for a second opinion is common.
You can also ask your primary care doctor (such as your family doctor) for the name of another surgeon or specialist who doesn't work with the one you were initially referred.
When getting a second opinion, follow these steps:
Schedule a visit with the second doctor. Give yourself enough time to arrange for your medical records to get there before your appointment
Have your first-opinion records sent ahead to the second doctor if possible
Have the second doctor's office send a report to your primary doctor, the one who manages all your care. This keeps all of your medical information in one place
How to use a second opinion...
When you have gathered the information you need, go over it with your primary care doctor or the specialist of your choice.
If your doctors agree, your decision should be clearer. But sometimes doctors disagree. Even when doctors follow the same guidelines, there may be more than one treatment choice. Two doctors may have good, yet different, opinions about how to treat you.
If the doctors don't agree, your primary care doctor should be able to guide you with your decision and weigh out the pros and cons of each decision. If not, and if you still wonder about other options, request a third opinion. Remember, the final choice is yours.
Please note that at Own Your Cancer, the advice we provide is not intended to substitute for a second opinion from a doctor. We do, however, offer educated consultation on the treatment care plan that you have received from your doctor and will guide you in determining which treatment course is best for you.