II. Assistance Obtaining a Second Opinion Regarding TreatmenT
After you receive an initial recommendation for treatment, you should consider getting a second opinion. If you would like to obtain a second opinion, medical advocate assistance is available here to help you get one and compare it to the initial recommendation.
The National Cancer Institute encourages cancer patients to get a second opinion:
A second opinion can confirm or suggest modifications to your doctor’s proposed treatment plan, provide reassurance that you have explored all of your options and answer any questions you may have.
Getting a second opinion is done frequently and most physicians welcome another doctor’s views. In fact, your doctor may be able to recommend a specialist for this consultation. However, some people find it uncomfortable to request a second opinion. When discussing this issue with your doctor, it may be helpful to express satisfaction with your doctor’s decision and care and to mention that you want your decision about treatment to be as thoroughly informed as possible. You may also wish to bring a family member along for support when asking for a second opinion.
Some health care plans require a second opinion, particularly if a doctor recommends surgery. Other health care plans will pay for a second opinion if the patient requests it. If you plan does not cover a second opinion, you can still obtain one if you are willing to cover the cost. (6)
The National Cancer Institute offers this reassurance about taking the time to get a second opinion.
Usually it is not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion. In most cases, the delay in starting treatment will not make treatment less effective. But some people with cancer need treatment right away. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor. (7)
One approach to shorten the delay in getting a second opinion is to schedule an early appointment with a second oncologist as soon as you know the schedule for completing your work-up and meeting with your first oncologist to discuss treatment.
6. National Cancer Institute. How to Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility if You Have Cancer. June 29, 2009.
7. National Cancer Institute. What You Need to Know about Cancer Treatment. October 4, 2006.