Second opinion Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. You may be experiencing many different emotions right now, including feeling overwhelmed with all of the decisions you need to make. We’re here to help you through the process.
Exploring a second opinion can help you make a more informed decision about your cancer treatment. It can also introduce you to advanced treatment options. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), we evaluate your type and stage of cancer, as well as needs like nutrition planning and family support during cancer treatment.
A dedicated team that includes your medical oncologist, surgeon, registered dietitian, naturopathic oncology provider and more, communicate regularly and work together to develop a treatment plan for your body, mind and spirit.
What is a Second Opinion?
During a second opinion, a physician will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your current and past medical history, your type and stage of cancer and make treatment recommendations.
A physician may also recommend additional diagnostic testing to confirm the type and stage of your cancer. Based on the results, your physician will discuss a variety of treatment options with you.
Why Get a Second Opinion?
Second opinion for your cancer care:
- Feel Empowered and Take Control – By proactively seeking a second opinion, you and your loved ones become more informed about all of the available treatment options. Learning more about your cancer and your treatment options can also help you feel in control of your health.
- Confidence and Peace of Mind – A second opinion can help you feel more confident that you are choosing the right treatment plan. According to one study, one in eight cancer patients are misdiagnosed. In some cases, a second opinion might yield a different type or stage of cancer, which changes the treatment plan. If the original diagnosis is confirmed, a second opinion may provide additional treatment options for you to consider.
- Discover Advanced Treatment Options – Some hospitals have technology that is not available at another facility. Seeking a second opinion from a doctor in another health system could provide more cancer treatment options, including treatments that are more advanced or more tailored to your individual needs.
- Find a Doctor You Really Like – Most doctors understand that patients have a right to a second opinion and should not feel offended. In fact, many doctors encourage it before making a treatment decision. You are under no obligation to treat with the oncologist recommended by your primary doctor. When meeting with a new doctor, take note of the nurses and office staff, to make sure you choose to treat with the best team and/or hospital for your needs.
- You Have a Rare Cancer – A rare cancer could mean a greater chance of misdiagnosis, since it may be a disease that the pathologist has rarely encountered. If you’ve been diagnosed with a rare cancer, a second opinion may be beneficial to confirm the disease type and stage.
- You’ve Been Told There is No Hope – If one doctor says your cancer is untreatable, another doctor may explore additional treatment options with you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a second opinion.
Second Opinion Etiquette
You may feel concerned that your doctor will be offended if you decide to seek advice from another healthcare professional, and that is perfectly understandable. A good doctor will understand that many patients decide to seek another opinion, and will want you to feel comfortable and assured before starting treatment.
Honesty is an important part of the doctor/patient relationship, so it is best to keep both doctors aware of your decisions. You will need to retrieve medical records from your original appointment, and this can be a time to inform your physician that you are exploring other treatment options.
A doctor that is insulted by your choice to get another opinion may not be someone you’d like to treat with in the future, as this is a common practice.