Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis, and, like any major life decision, it deserves careful consideration before you move forward with your medical care and treatment. It’s important to establish a trusted relationship with your healthcare professional and that you’re comfortable asking any questions that you may have regarding your treatment.
Although not every patient will need or wish to get a second opinion, sometimes seeking a second opinion can allow you to confirm your diagnosis, hear different perspectives on your prognosis and gather information about available treatment options.
Should I get a second opinion?
There are many reasons why you might consider getting a second opinion following your cancer diagnosis:
- To confirm your diagnosis
- Your doctor is not a specialist in your type of cancer
- You want more information about your options
- To get a different perspective
- You don’t have a comfortable relationship with your doctor
In certain cases, treatment decisions may need to be made right away and there won’t be time for a second opinion. If you’re concerned about delaying treatment, speak with your primary doctor.
How do I bring it up with my primary doctor?
You may be nervous about letting your doctor know that you’re considering a second opinion, but don’t worry; they won’t be offended. If you need help bringing it up, try one of the following conversation starters:
“Doctor, before we start any treatment, I’m considering getting a second opinion. Can you help me do that?”
“I’m thinking about getting a second opinion. Is there someone you can refer me to?”
“Thank you so much for all your support, Doctor. I think it might help me process this information to get a second opinion.”
Your second opinion checklist
If you’re thinking about getting a second opinion, use the checklist below to help guide you through the process.
- Tell your primary doctor that you’re considering getting a second opinion before beginning treatment. Ask for a referral.
- Schedule an appointment with the second doctor or a specialist.
- Have any relevant test results or medical records transferred over to the second doctor before your appointment.
- Prepare a list of questions.
- Bring someone with you to your appointment or take notes to ensure you don’t miss any important information.
- Have your second opinion sent over to your primary doctor.
- Work with your healthcare team and use all the information that you have gathered to make informed decisions and begin your treatment.
Bring the checklist to your next appointment to help guide you through the discussion with your doctor.
Don’t be shy! Whether you decide to get a second opinion or not, discussing your cancer treatment with your healthcare professional is important and will help you feel more confident about your cancer treatment plan.