Getting a Second Opinion

A cancer diagnosis can often leave you confused and worried, and it can be difficult to make immediate decisions about your treatment. Many cancer patients seek the counsel and advice of more than one oncology specialist to confirm their diagnosis and weigh treatment options. As such, asking for a second opinion is common and can help you feel more comfortable with upcoming health care decisions.

Should you decide to seek a second opinion, it is important to communicate with your primary physician for medical records and important information and to keep your health care team informed. In most cases taking the time to get another opinion will not have a significant impact on your treatment, but there are cases where immediate treatment is necessary. Talk through your concerns and intentions with your physician to ensure you make the best decisions for your care.

The Jones Clinic physicians welcome the opportunity to have another consultant review and approve their diagnosis or treatment decisions, and may even suggest another specialist for you to consult for a second opinion. While there are some instances when a patient or caregiver may disagree with the physician, this is not the primary reason to seek another specialist’s opinion. Instead, you simply want to make sure you have enough facts to make the best decisions regarding your treatment.

Some patients are concerned with insurance providers paying for a second opinion. While you should always check with your provider about coverage, many providers actually require a second opinion when cancer is suspected or diagnosed.

Here are some tips that may help you in choosing your oncologist:

  • Find a provider that takes your health insurance plan. Your insurance provider may provide a database of covered physicians, or you can always check with the clinic or health center to verify coverage.
  • Ask friends or family members for referrals, especially those who  have received cancer treatments in the past. Ask about their experiences as well as their outcomes.
  • Evaluate the physician’s credentials and relevant training or experience, including board certification in oncology.
  • Find out where treatments are given, whether in the office or at a hospital or other location as travel will likely be a concern.
  • Select a physician who  has experience treating your specific type of cancer. Not all oncologists have experience with every type of cancer, especially rare cancers.
  • Inquire about resources available such as support groups, activities and patient advocates.