I had never really considered going for a second opinion for any reason, until someone very close to me had an experience that opened my eyes. Even when I wasn’t a huge fan of my doctor, it seemed like a lot of trouble to transfer medical records, research insurance, find a new office and also go through the uncomfortable process of revealing to my original doctor that I’m moving on.
Recently, a dermatologist discovered melanoma on my mother’s leg. After she had surgery to remove the growth, she was extremely depressed. She was unhappy with her experience, her questions went unanswered, and my mother felt lost and alone. I told her not to worry, because if next steps are necessary, then she has every right to find a new doctor that is more suited to what she needs and wants. Luckily, the disease did not spread, and there wasn’t a need for further action. However, as she waited for results, knowing she had options made her feel more relaxed and in control. After our conversation, I realized I needed to start taking my own advice.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or you’re dealing with another serious medical diagnosis, you may want to consider the benefits of seeking a second opinion. Though it may be awkward telling your original doctor that you won’t be returning, he/she should understand that finding another opinion is a common practice. And if your doctor doesn’t understand, then maybe it’s not someone you want to visit again anyway. While it may take some effort to seek out a second opinion, it could be worth those extra steps. If nothing else, at least you’ll feel comfortable and confident that you are heading down the right treatment path.
Here are six reasons why you might want to consider a second opinion for your cancer diagnosis:
1. 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 about your cancer and treatment options can also help you feel more in control of your health.
2. Confidence and peace of mind – A second opinion can help you feel more confident that you are choosing the right treatment plan. A misdiagnosis is always a possibility, and a second opinion can help determine whether your diagnosis is correct. If the results are the same, your second opinion may provide you with more treatment options that you hadn’t considered before.
3. 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.
For example, CyberKnife® VSI™ Robotic Radiosurgery is an innovative treatment that delivers high doses of radiation with pinpoint accuracy to a broad range of tumors throughout the body. Benefits may include no incision, no pain, no anesthesia or hospitalization, greater comfort and faster return to normal activities.
4. Find a doctor you really like – Working with a doctor you really like and trust could make a huge difference in your healing process. It can help you feel more relaxed, which could lead to a better outcome. And, you will be more likely to express how you are honestly feeling, so that your doctor can help alleviate any pain or address issues immediately. As you look for 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.
5. 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.
6. You’ve been told there is no hope – In every situation, there is always hope. One doctor may say that your cancer is untreatable, while another will explore treatment options that hadn’t been presented before. Whether the goal is to simply alleviate pain or if it is to prolong life, the decision is up to you. If your doctor doesn’t listen to how you want to proceed, then you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting a second opinion.
Learn more about the benefits of a second opinion. Or, view this handy infographic to visualize what a second opinion may look like.