Getting a Second Opinion Before Cancer Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it's wise to get a second opinion before you begin treatment.

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If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it's often wise to get a second opinion before you start treatment. This means asking another doctor to review the first doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan.

Some people worry that they will offend their doctor if they say they want a second opinion. Don't be concerned about this. Getting a second opinion is common practice, and a good doctor will support your decision.

Why would I want to get a second opinion?
There are a few reasons to consider getting a second opinion if you have cancer:

  • It can help you be sure the diagnosis is correct. No one is perfect, and even the best doctors sometimes make mistakes. Having another doctor review your diagnosis reduces the chance of errors.
  • It might give you other options for treatment. Another doctor may be aware of newer treatments or different ways to treat the cancer.
  • It will help you learn more about your cancer. The more you know, the better you'll be able to decide what's best for you.
  • Your insurance company may require it. Check with your insurance provider to find out if a second opinion is required or covered. You might need to get a second opinion from a doctor in your plan's network.

How can I find a doctor to give a second opinion?
Ask your doctor to recommend another expert in the type of cancer you have.

  • Check with your insurance company to find cancer specialists who are in your plan's network.
  • Call the Cancer Information Service (CIS). You can reach them at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) or 800-332-8615 (TTY). The CIS does not recommend individual doctors. However, it can give you information about cancer treatment centers and hospitals in your area that are approved by the National Cancer Institute.
By Lila Havens, Staff Writer
Created on 03/01/2001
Updated on 08/31/2008
Sources:
  • Cancer.net. Seeking a second opinion.
  • American Cancer Society. Should I get a second opinion?
  • National Cancer Institute. How to find a doctor or treatment facility if you have cancer.
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