Getting a second opinion is a vital part of becoming more educated about your treatment options and your cancer.
The more you are able to learn regarding your cancer diagnosis and options for treatment, the better your chance of getting the treatment which is most appropriate for you. Cancers are more treatable than they were previously, however, there are also a larger variety of treatment options and procedures which are more complicated. Having a second opinion can help you better understand these options and make an informed decision regarding which is option is right for you. Competent doctors will not be offended by second opinions. Second opinions do, however, reassure you and your family and in the end they enable you to get the most right therapy.
What is a Second Opinion?
A second opinion is an evaluation of the cancer diagnosis and recommendations of treatment by the doctor who is currently treating the cancer by an addition, independent physician.
Either the patient or the primary doctor can start the process of obtaining a second opinion. Typically, patients get a second opinion after they are referred to a second doctor or a special multidisciplinary team, comprised of several experts at a cancer treatment center. This physician or team of physicians will look at the following:
The physician(s) then relay their opinion about treatment to both the primary doctor and the patient.A second opinion is more likely to be more comprehensive, or including all possible perspectives, when it is performed with a multidisciplinary team in a cancer center. This team usually includes subspecialist oncologists, oncologists, radiation therapists. and surgeons.
Who Pays for a Second Opinion?
A big problem with getting a second opinion is that insurers might not cover this expense. However, many health care and insurance companies will pay for these opinions and recognise the importance of getting second opinions. In certain circumstances, some insurers may even insist on second opinions. This is usually the case the the patient’s primary physician suggests an expensive form of treatment.
For cancer patients who are members of a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), their best protection is to seek second opinions even if they have to pay for it. These HMO’s generally try to treat and diagnose patients within their own system because the more money that is spent on treatment and second opinions outside of the HMO, the less money can be used for operation profits and costs. This can create a conflict of interest between the HMO and the patient, particularly if the treatment can only be obtained outside of the HMO system. HMO members might be discouraged from trying more expensive treatments which only offer a small chance for success, even though that chance may be very real. Because of this, getting a second opinion is a good idea for HMO members so they can be sure to be informed of new clinical trials and other new, promising treatments. The majority of reputable HMO’s, however, can offer state of the art cancer treatment for most types of cancer. Anyone considering a specialized treatment, like cancer surgery, within the HMO they are a part of, should ask about the number of like procedures that are performed every year by this HMO and what the results are.
Why Do I Need a Second Opinion?
A second opinion is a vital part of the process of being educated for cancer patients. In recent times cancer treatment has evolved significantly. Because of this, many cancers are more treatable now then they were previously, especially when the correct initial treatment is selected.
To get the most appropriate treatment, patients need to understand the kind of cancer they have and the available options for treatment. However, today there are many more treatment options, and these treatment options are much more complicated than they have been in the past. For these reasons as well as others, it is to your advantage to get more than one opinion regarding your cancer treatment. In addition, a second opinion will give you the opportunity to get information from a person other than the doctor who will be managing your treatment, which is normally the primary source of information for many patients. Second opinions are common practice in all areas of complex medicine that has many available treatment methods.
Is it “Bad Etiquette” to Get a Second Opinion?
Patients, friends, and relatives should remember that second opinions are a regular part of good cancer management and they should not concern themselves with hurting their primary physician’s feelings. If you opt to get a second, independent opinion, it is very important to communicate with your primary physician to get the information you need for the review, and also to make sure your treating physician informed. The majority of physicians are glad to have another physician review and approve the decisions they have made about the patient’s care, or to suggest other treatment options that could be more effective. In some cases a patient might disagree with their primary physician and may desire to change physicians; however, this is not a second opinion’s main purpose. The majority of the time, you just want to be sure that you are receiving the best advice.
Who Should Get a Second Opinion?
Specific situations where a second opinion is the most useful are not defined. However, there are obvious situations where second opinions can be helpful and beneficial to most patients. These situations include: