The 4 main reasons people seek a second opinion for cancer
When they’ve got cancer, many people seek the advice of more than one doctor about their diagnosis or treatment.
But why might they want a second opinion for cancer? We’ve answered your frequently asked questions below.
Why would I seek a second opinion about my cancer diagnosis or treatment?
In the Guardian’s ‘Second Medical Opinions Needn’t Be Awkward’, London GP Ann Robinson says that people seek second opinions for one of three reasons. Either they don’t like their doctor. They don’t like what they’ve been told. Or they have more than one treatment option and need help deciding which treatment plan to run with.
“If you can’t talk to your doctor it’s not unreasonable to request another one,” she says. “Likewise, if you’ve been given a life-changing diagnosis you may want to make sure your doctor is right.”
“If you’ve been given a life-changing diagnosis, you may want to be sure your doctor is right.”
In his article for Chris’s Cancer Community, Jeremy Marshall writes about his top lesssons learnt.
“Get the best expert you can find for your type of cancer,” he says. “Cancer is a catch all label for a huge variety of different disease types. Each of which has its own characteristics. It’s vital – especially if like me you have had (two) rare types – that you try and locate an expert in the field.”
And the evidence supports Jeremy’s thinking, too.
A 2016 study looked at the significance of a second opinion for cancer. And it considered its effect on diagnosis and treatment plans. The study found that the original diagnosis or treatment was verified in only 43-82% of cases. That means at least 18% of cancer patients could be left with the wrong diagnosis or treatment plan, ultimately affecting prognosis. In up to 69% of cases a second opinion led to a change in diagnosis, treatment recommendations or prognosis.
“Finding the best fit – both for you as a person and for your specific type of cancer – has never been more important.”
People usually seek a second opinion for one of these reasons.
1. They have doubts about their diagnosis
2. They want to be certain that the proposed treatment plan is the best option for them
3. They’re looking for reassurance that what they’ve been told is accurate
4. They don’t feel comfortable talking to their doctor
“In up to 69% of cases a second opinion has resulted in a change in diagnosis, treatment recommendations or prognosis.”
“Cancer is a catch all label for a huge variety of different disease types. And it’s vital that you try and locate an expert in the field.”