Second Opinions for Cancer

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Second opinions about your cancer diagnosis can help you make key choices. You can get confirmation that validates your doctor's conclusions. Or you'll find an option you never knew you had.

Either way, a second opinion informs your decisions. You can address any doubts or questions you have about your care plan. You'll then feel confident that you're in good care.

What is a Second Opinion?

Getting a second opinion doesn't mean you have to change doctors or hospitals. All it means is you have another set of eyes look at your situation. Another medical professional reviews your tests. They may confirm what you knew. Or they offer a different diagnosis or treatment.

Second opinions can help ensure you have the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.

Do Second Opinions Hurt a Doctor's Feelings?

No. In fact, many cancer doctors recommend you get a second opinion. Many get a second opinion themselves, while diagnosing or treating patients. They get feedback and suggestions from their peers.

Your cancer team should encourage and welcome a second opinion. They want you to get the best care and feel confident about it.

How Do I Get a Second Opinion?

Securing a second opinion can take some work. It involves:

  • Finding a specialist in your type of cancer
  • Making an appointment for a second opinion
  • Asking what records to send before the appointment

The doctor giving a second opinion may need test results, medical history, and scan images. They may need to do more tests or scans.

What Do I Do With the Second Opinion?

The second opinion will confirm or conflict with the first diagnosis or care plan.

With a confirmation, you can return to your preferred doctor with the peace of mind that you're on the right track.

If the second opinion differs from the first, you have a decision to make. You can:

  • Return to your original doctor with the information from the second opinion. Talk about the differences. Find out if your doctor can provide new options.
  • Choose another doctor.

In the end, you get to decide who you see. Your cancer team should honor your opinions. They should listen to your concerns and answer your questions. Getting a second opinion can help you advocate for your best outcome.