|Getting a Second Opinion|
The time during a cancer diagnosis is very stressful. Many people with cancer divide their lives into the period “before I got cancer" and “after the diagnosis". Often people with cancer just want to get it treated as soon as possible to reduce the chance of it spreading. It is important to know that while a cancer diagnosis cannot be ignored, there is time to evaluate the various treatment options for your cancer and to select the one that is best for you.
Once your doctor has provided you with your diagnosis and a treatment plan, you may wish to have another specialist review the plan. This is called getting a second opinion. Cancer is complicated and there is a tremendous amount of new information being published every week about which treatments are most effective and safe. While you may have complete confidence in your doctor and his or her judgment, it is sometimes helpful to have a second expert opinion on the course of treatment that is right for you. Some people feel uncomfortable asking their doctor to help them obtain a second opinion; however, it is a normal part of oncology practice. Your doctor will need to help you by providing copies of your pathology report, test results, and scans to the second specialist. Some health plans even require a second opinion before surgery. If your health plan does not cover the cost of a second opinion, you have the choice of paying for it yourself.
Even most doctors, when faced with a cancer diagnosis for themselves or their loved ones, will consult with more than one physician before selecting a course of therapy. This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, and can have a significant impact on both the quality of your life going forward and the chances of a positive outcome.
Please note, there are a few cancers that are extremely aggressive and may not allow you the time to obtain a second opinion when selecting a treatment plan.
This is an extract from the NCCN Guidelines for Patients®. NCCN Guidelines for Patients® on specific cancers are available to view or print out.
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