How Valuable is a Second Opinion?

“Should I get a second opinion?” It’s a popular question that many cancer patients ask themselves when faced with their diagnosis and treatment options. So when, why and how should someone go about getting this second opinion?


In most instances of cancer, (not all) there is a lag-time between diagnosis and treatment. This gives the patient a window to seek out a second opinion, and to think about and research available options.


While some patients may worry that asking for a second opinion can be insulting to their doctor, nothing is further from the truth; it is a perfectly normal part of the diagnosis process. In fact, it may even be required depending on a person’s health insurance.


Asking for a second opinion is a legal right, but it’s understandable that the patient may fear the social awkwardness of “second guessing” a doctor’s medical findings. However, this is nothing new to physicians and many times good doctors will already consult with their peers.
“I respect your opinion, but I would like to speak with one other expert before starting your recommended treatment. How can I proceed?”
“I need the reassurance of a second opinion and I’d like to talk with another doctor to be sure. What is the next step?”
“This is all so new to me and I feel that a second opinion could help give me clarity.”

To Who:

Most doctors will have a ready list of peers to whom a patient can refer, as will health insurance companies. Talk to your doctor and ask for a referral.