Asking For a Second Opinion

Asking For a Second Opinion

Choosing a surgeon or oncologist is a big decision.  Trust me, as both a doctor and a cancer survivor myself, I get it.  Often, you will meet with one doctor and know they are the right fit for you.  But sometimes you may want more information.  When making any life changing decision, most people mull it over and seek out the opinion of several trusted friends and family members.  Choosing your medical team should be no different.  There are times when choosing a doctor or treatment that is the right fit for you requires a second opinion.

If the thought of asking or telling your doctor you are seeking a second opinion makes you uncomfortable, you are definitely not alone.  A lot of people are concerned at damaging the relationship with their current doctor and fear this may negatively affect their care.

With my doctor hat on, I’m here to tell you, this shouldn’t be the case! In fact, it is standard medical practice to receive a second opinion.  This is especially true when it comes to rarer diagnoses and treatments.  Your doctor should be more than happy to respect your wishes and may even be able to help you find another physician to consult.

As someone who has experienced both sides of these interactions, knowing how to best communicate with your team through this can be helpful. When asking for a second opinion, it is best to let your doctor know as early as possible.  The second opinion will likely request your medical records and you may need your doctor’s help in getting your imaging and pathology reports to the second doctor. Also, some health insurance plans require that the second opinion is requested by your doctor, rather than by you.

Another thing to consider is to let your doctor know as early as possible so that they do not schedule you for treatment or surgery.  For example, if you are scheduled for a surgery and then cancel it last minute, the surgical spot may go empty.  Take into account that the surgical spot or chair in the chemotherapy infusion center could have gone to someone who may be in a similar position and anxiously awaiting treatment.

Ultimately, your medical team wants you to feel confident with the care they are providing you.  If seeking out a second opinion is what will make you feel comfortable, then they should encourage and support you through it!

The Communicating With Your Healthcare Team Educational Initiative is made possible with support from: