Not Just a Second Opinion ... A Second Chance.
Many people diagnosed with cancer feel overwhelmed when they receive their diagnosis, and often want to starting treatment immediately. In most cases, though, there’s time to do some research to make sure your diagnosis is correct and the treatment plan you have been given makes sense — and this may include getting a second opinion.
Getting a second opinion means having another cancer specialist, or a team of specialists, review all of your medical reports and test results, give an opinion about your diagnosis, and suggest treatment options.
A second opinion may confirm your original doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, provide more details about the type and stage of cancer, raise additional treatment options you hadn’t considered, or recommend a different course of action.
The very idea of getting a second opinion can seem daunting. It can take time and preparation to find a second doctor and arrange for the second opinion. You may also feel uncomfortable telling your current doctor that you want a second opinion. But doctors are used to hearing this request and often recommend that their patients do so.
For most people, delaying the start of treatment for a short time usually does not pose a risk, although you and your doctor can discuss your situation and decide how much of a delay is okay.
What to Expect During a Second Opinion Evaluation
During a second-opinion evaluation at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, one of our cancer experts will meet with you and perform a comprehensive evaluation of your current and past medical history. Your MD Anderson at Cooper second-opinion physician may recommend that you undergo additional diagnostic testing to confirm the type and stage of your cancer. He or she will collaborate with other members of the team specializing in your cancer to get opinions from our surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, and other specialists. After a thorough assessment, our team will provide you with an independent diagnosis that includes the type and stage of cancer, and recommendations for treatment to provide you with the best possible outcomes.
Exploring a second opinion can help you make a more informed decision about your cancer treatment. It can also introduce you to advanced treatment options including clinical trials that may not be available at other hospitals.
Insurance Coverage for a Second Opinion
Most insurance providers pay for a second opinion when cancer is suspected or diagnosed. However, before making an appointment, ask your insurance provider about coverage. Ask if there is a requirement of selecting from a specific group of doctors. Some insurance providers even require a second opinion before they will pay for cancer treatment.
Preparing for the Appointment: What to Bring
Gather all of your relevant medical records to bring to the appointment, including:
- Results of any tests or procedures you have already undergone.
- Images from your most recent imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scan, PET CT scan, MRIs and ultrasounds.
- Pathology slides from the biopsy used to determine your original diagnosis.
During the Appointment
Here are some tips for the appointment:
- Bring a notebook with you and take notes during the consultation. Writing down the information you learn allows you to review it later.
- Take another person to the appointment with you to help you remember the discussion with the doctor.
- Ask questions, including requests for clarification if the doctor says something that you don’t understand. It is important to feel confident that you have the information you need to make the best treatment decision.