Getting A Second Opinion
Receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming and anxiety-ridden event. You may have all sorts of questions and wonder whether your doctor has made the correct diagnosis. Your doctor can provide you with concrete information and treatment plan details. Still, the doctor's plan is not always the best plan or the plan you MUST stick to.
Many people get second opinions after their initial diagnoses and before they begin treatment. But do not let this window confine you! You can get a second opinion any time you are unhappy with your treatment, or just want a different set of eyes and ears. It is okay to broaden your view and include other healthcare professionals.
What are the benefits of a second opinion?
Cancer knowledge, research, clinical trials, and treatments are always changing and evolving. Some healthcare professionals are more up to date than others. Some may know more about your specific case and diagnosis. Speaking to a different doctor may help you find the best options for you to meet your specific needs. However, there are some factors to consider before getting a second opinion. Read on to learn about questions people may ask when looking into a second opinion.
With which stage of prostate cancer were you last diagnosed?
Will I offend my doctor?
While this may not be your top concern, many people worry about how their doctor will feel. Is it offensive to seek care elsewhere, and will it affect your treatment in the future? No! Your doctor may actually be expecting you to get a second opinion!
Most doctors are very open and encouraging when patients are interested in second opinions. This is especially true if they are open communicators and invested in their patients' care. Some doctors may even offer suggestions on where to find specialists for your specific concerns. Others may point you toward databases like the ones maintained by the American Medical Association or the American Board of Medical Specialties. With these databases, you can explore on your own.
Are all oncologists the same?
Oncology is an ever-growing field with many subspecialties. There are medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgical oncologists, to name a few. Each type specializes in a different subset of care and may be more knowledgeable about your situation. Also, a different doctor may know about newer treatment options or clinical trials you may be eligible for. You could find someone perfectly suited for your needs!
What will the appointment be like?
In order to have the best experience possible, gather all documents and test results and bring them to the new doctor. They will most likely tell you exactly what they need, but the more information you can bring, the better. Bringing in all your records helps you avoid repeat tests that could slow down the process or cost money.
Take notes during all of your appointments, or bring a friend or family member to be an extra set of ears. This way, you can confirm results from another doctor. Taking notes helps to get all of your questions answered. You can also compare treatment plans or bring any discrepancies or new questions back to your original doctor. The more heads you can put together, the greater the chance you will find the best treatment plan for you.
Remember that no questions are off-limits! Your doctors want the best care for you, no matter where you get it. Make sure you check with your insurance provider to make sure a second opinion visit is covered. Many insurance companies even require a second opinion before they will cover treatments.1
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?