Navigating a Second Opinion with Your Cancer Diagnosis

September 27, 2021
Navigating a Second Opinion with Your Cancer Diagnosis

By: Sarah Kown

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Victoria Croog

When you’re diagnosed with cancer, it might come as a shock. Your oncology team members only have so much time at the appointment to answer your questions and you might not even know where to start. Knowing what questions to ask and educating yourself on various aspects of the cancer journey can help improve the quality of your life throughout treatment and beyond.

Playing an active role in the decisions about your treatment can also make a big difference in your cancer journey. One way you can do this is to prepare a list of questions for each appointment. 

When receiving information about your treatment plan, it’s important to trust your instincts.  Many people are afraid to ask for a second opinion, but it may be in your best interest to do so. 

When to ask for a second opinion…

  1. When you have a gut feeling that you've been misdiagnosed.
  2. When you don't have confidence in your doctor.
  3. When your doctor isn't willing to answer your questions.
  4. When you have not received enough information about your treatment options.
  5. When you feel as though you are being forced into an expensive or new type of treatment.
  6. When you would like reassurance that you're receiving the best treatments available.

How to get a second opinion?

Asking for a second opinion is common. ​If you are deciding about a surgery or other special treatment(s), you can also ask your primary care doctor (such as your family doctor) for the name of a surgeon or specialist who doesn't work with the one you were initially referred to.

When getting a second opinion, follow these steps:

  1. Schedule a visit with the second doctor. Give yourself enough time to arrange for your medical records to get there before your appointment.
  2. Have your first-opinion records sent ahead to the second doctor if possible.
  3. 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, review it with your primary care doctor or the specialist of your choice.

If the doctors are in agreement on the type of treatment you should have, your decision should be clear. 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 you are still wondering about other options, request a third opinion. Remember, the final choice is yours. 

Learn More About Navigating a Second Opinion With OneVillage

Regardless of where you are in your cancer journey, OneVillage is here to help. OneVillage is dedicated to providing the support, information, goods, and services that cancer patients need. Whether you’re wondering how to navigate requesting a second opinion or how to find a community of people like you, OneVillage is here.  In addition to highly personalized recommendations and checklists to help you navigate your new normal, through our WishList feature we also allow supporters to contribute to a fund for  your medical trips and other expenses. If you have any further questions about what OneVillage offers and site features, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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