• Should I get a second opinion?

    Asked by GENMAR47 on Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Should I get a second opinion?

    I like my current doctors and don't want to offend them, but this such a life altering situation that I don't want to leave anything to chance.

    13 Answers from the Community

    13 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      This seems to come up all the time here and I think a lot of people don't understand the purpose and appropriate applications of a second opinion.

      What a second opinion is not: It is not a way to shop for doctors. It is not a way to get another doctor's opinion on your overall diagnosis or treatment. It is not going to change test results their interpretation which is not usually done by your doctor anyway (the are interpreted by pathologist, radiologists, and other physicians with specific expertise in those areas).

      What a second opinion is: It is a consultation by a second physician with specific expertise in a specific area that your current physician may not have. For instance, here are second opinions I have had since my cancer DX last year. Every one of them was suggested and arranged by my medical oncologist.

      1. Because I had previously had radiation in the same area 18 years ago, we got a second opinion from a radiation oncologist as to the risks vs. benefits of irradiating the same area again.

      2. My MO consulted with a breast surgeon who in tern consulted with a plastic surgeon at the very beginning of my treatment because I had inflammatory breast cancer and multiple opinions on the order and extent of chemotherapy and surgery were advisable.

      3. Shortly after surgery I developed some saromas (fluid pockets) around the scar lines from my surgery. My RO was concerned that radiation treatments with them being in the line of fire so she requested a second opinion (to confirm that they were seromas and not something more serious) from my surgeon. She also had me evaluatied and treated by an occupational therapist who specialized in lymphyatic message because she felt I might be at risk for lymphodema.

      4. My MO wanted me to go back to weight bearing exercise after chemo but I was have some serious knee pain so she wanted a second opinion from an orthopedist. Turns out I developed osteoarthritis in one knee during cancer treatments. He gave me a cortisone shot to control the pain and now I can do weight bearing exercise again.

      These are just a few examples of second opinions I got during my own journey, there are certainly many other circumstances where a second opinion might be appropriate. Discuss it with your oncologist. He/she will not be offended. But do keep in mind that getting a second opinion just because you wish for a different outcome is self-defeating. It needs to be considered in a practical medical perspective, not just to stir the pot to see if something different turns up.

      about 8 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      A second opinion saved my life. The first oncologist thought I had a virus and wanted to wait. I actually had a rare T-Cell Lymphoma that was in stage IV with bone marrow involvement. Your doctor may very well support you in your quest for a second opinion. All major cancer centers have "tumor boards" in which various oncologists present their cases and discuss the best treatment options with their peers. If they seek second opinions, why shouldn't you?

      about 8 years ago
    • Beaner54's Avatar

      Did your family doctor diagnose your cancer then refer you to an oncologist?
      If so, that would kind of be your "second opinion" BUT don't hesitate to seek another
      if you would feel more comfortable or have another biopsy done and interpreted
      at another facility.

      about 8 years ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Genmar47, as an oncology/end of life nurse, I can tell you that doctors never give it a second thought when a patient seeks out a second opinion. Many doctors encourage it, especially oncologists. All you are doing is gathering a different perspective on the situation. If a 2nd opinion offers you a different course of treatment, you can take that advice back to your doctor and ask if he would be willing to offer that same course of treatment. If a second opinion gives you a different diagnosis, you should bring that back to your doctor as well, so that he could consider the possibility. You have to remember that cancer is a unique disease; very personal, they don't follow a textbook program. Some cancers come from genetic errors, some hereditary, some from a virus, some from external environmental influences, some from hormones. Each person is unique as well, so it is no wonder that sometimes these doctors come a little short of the mark. Get that 2nd opinion and then bring it to your doctor. Allow him to either amend his decisions or justify them. Never forget that he provides a service to you, not the other way around. It is estimated that by 2016, one in every two men will have an increases risk of cancer, and one in three women, so I doubt you will affect his bottom line. If a mechanic told you that you would need a new engine for your car, im sure you would have no problem seeking a second opinion for that. Best of luck, Carm.

      about 8 years ago
    • Charlieb's Avatar

      To me, the most important factor is your comfort level with a doctor. If you want a second opinion because you are just not really comfortable with a doctor then you may want to find another doctor. You should feel comfortable enough to let the doctor know you would like a second opinion. No respectful doctor is going to be offended if their patient wants to get a second opinion. Like you said, cancer treatment is a life altering situation and your oncologist is going to be with you for a long time.
      If you are comfortable with your doctor then I agree 100% with what nancyjac said. With my cancer I was fortunate because my oncologist was part of a team of doctors (froedtert hospital in Milwaukee) we discussed various aspects of my treatment. I also have neuropathy and have seen several neurologist and brought back their ideas back to my regular doctor.

      about 8 years ago
    • Carol-Charlie's Avatar

      I know only my situation. I was 62. My back surgeon spotted my cancer when he looked at the MRI he'd ordered prior to doing back surgery to relieve my back pain. Then my personal doctor ordered the tests that revealed Ovarian Cancer... Big Time... Tumor turned out to be 39 lbs. I had to comfort her as she cried and didn't know how she missed it.... Anyway... She sent me toher gynicologist for surgery. He looked at me and said I want to send you to an oncologist that will know just what to do. (I bless all of the above and remember them in my prayers of thanks). The oncologist was a new specialty back in JaNUARY OF 2006. a gynicological oncologist Surgeon. He looked like Doogy Houser,MD of TV fame. He saved my life. (I already had asked God to lead me to where He wanted me to be. The Lord took my hand and lead me to my wonderful lifesaving doctor. I trusted and respected all the doctors in this string... I was 62 at diagnosis. I had eight children.. 3 mine, 5 step... I had 17 grandchildren... I wanted to live. I know you know.. I told this 'kid' doctor (right out of school with all the latest knowledge and ideas) He looked at me and said. You want to fight.... WE'RE GOING TO FIGHT!!!! We fought hard. Surgery, chemo, I/V and I/P, then he told tme about another new study that had just been authorized for use.... it was so promicing that that stopped the trial and just started using it..... One very strong chemo dose a month for another 12 months. I did that too. I now have been cancer free since the test taken on May 25th 2006.... No recurrence, and ovarian cancer likes to recur.

      My suggestion for you is to go to an oncologist you can trust. You don't have to like him. I didn't start loving mine until after surgery. I know at diagnosis I as my Lord to take my hand because I was so terrified. He did... my fear was gone within an instant. I told Him I would follow Him to wherever he wanted me to be... totally meaning to life with my loved ones or to life with Him in Heaven. He led me. It is He I feel who led me to the right doctor. the right treatment and on. It is almost 7 years now. I have chemo induced neropathy in my feet... some pain, much numbness. I have slight numbing in my fingers (everything feels soft as silk and I feel as if I walk on clouds sometimes) My hair never grew back thick enough to wear alone.. But PaulaYoung.com supplies me with the latest styles for reasonable prices and always has sales.. I have too many wigs...but... I turned 69 last May... Last Saturday I danced at the wedding of my Grandson. I held my two great grandchildren... and we danced... and we danced. 1) trust God 2) Trust the doctor... 3) Do what they tell you!!

      about 8 years ago
    • Jeepinbob's Avatar

      I would strongly consider it. Like Nancjac said, you are not shopping doctors, but different doctors can see things that another might not. Also two Doctors might have different philosophies on how to treat your situation. Now this can make things more confusing and at one point my wife and I considered a 3rd opinion to see if we could find some consensus. Make sure that if at all possible, at least one of your Doctors is an expert in your exact type of cancer and probably at a major cancer center. even if you have to travel.. Our Main oncologist, who we love had very little experience with cervical cancer as did our main radiation oncologist. Living in Dallas, it was about a 5 hour drive to Houston to get our second opinion from MD Anderson. The radiation oncologist at MDA, has a LOT of experience and made our radiation oncologist do a second round of radiation because she (MDA RO) didn't think our RO had covered enough area.

      One last note, if either doctor you use, has a problem with you getting a second opinion or being your second opinion, I would think that to be a HUGE red flag. One we saw seemed to have a problem and we don't see him any more. MD Anderson (one of the finest cancer centers in the world) did not mind being a second opinion, and our main oncologist did not mind being a second opinion. He did end our our main, but that wiliness to do what ever we needed/wanted him to do is part of why we like him.

      about 8 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      If getting a second opinion makes you feel more comfortable, do it! I agree with the others here. The doctors work for you! You need to be comfortsble with your medical decisions. Best of luck to you.

      about 8 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      Get a second opinion. Its your life, not your doctors. Leave nothing to chance.
      If your doctors are offended by you getting a second opinion, get different doctors.
      Its fine to be friendly with your doctors, but you should not be friends. This is your life. You need your doctors be feel comfortable with being objective and telling you things you may not want to hear in order to make the best informed decisions.
      As others have pointed out, cancer is not a textbook disease. A second opinion is fresh eyes looking at things and may see something the first doctor missed through no fault of their own.
      At the end of the day, you are the general in this fight. Lead yourself to the best situation you can and that includes leaving no stone unturned.

      about 8 years ago
    • WizardOfWesley's Avatar

      Yes.. and a third if you still want to triple check don't second guess... As Donald Trump would say .. It's nothing personal .. Just business... Take care of YOUR "Business"... best way you see fit...

      about 8 years ago
    • FreeBird's Avatar

      The thing to remember is that you are the one ultimately in charge of your health care. If it gives you peace of mind to get a second opinion, any doctor who would be offended by that isn't worth keeping anyway. Doctors are human beings who make mistakes. Making the best decision you can, and feeling confident about that decision, might be helped along by having more input.

      about 8 years ago
    • daveh's Avatar

      doctors are never offended by people who want a second opinion.Because,they would do the same thing if it was there bodies.

      about 8 years ago
    • joey's Avatar

      I got a second opinion partly because my medical insurance wouldn't allow me to see another dr. unless it was for a second. And the dr. I did see made some very critical suggestions which I took to the dr. who was doing the surgery. It gave me peace of mind; I'd covered most of my bases. For me it is critical to know as much as I can because cancer will blind side you.

      about 8 years ago

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