Should You Get a Second Opinion?
With something as serious as cancer, getting input from another expert just makes sense. At Mosaic Life Care, we support, encourage and will help our patients in getting a second opinion. No matter how much you like or trust your oncologist, it’s natural to wonder if something was missed or if a new treatment is available.
Your reasons for getting a second opinion may include:
- Being sure you have explored all options.
- Seeing if another treatment is available.
- Having trouble understanding and communicating with your doctor, or you want your options explained by someone else.
- Wanting peace of mind that you are making the right choice.
Getting a second opinion can help you feel sure about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Decisions about your health should be made after you’ve learned all you can about your diagnosis, prognosis and available treatment options.
Will My Doctor Be Upset If I Get a Second Opinion?
It is expected and normal for patients to get a second opinion on cancer care. The doctors at Mosaic Life Care are not only comfortable with this request, but encourage it. Our team will support you through the entire process. If you are unsure of how to begin the conversation with your doctor, here are a few ideas:
- “I’m thinking of getting a second opinion. Can you recommend someone?”
- “Before we start treatment, I’d like to get a second opinion. Will you help me with that?”
- “If you had my type of cancer, who would you see for a second opinion?”
- “I think that I’d like to talk with another doctor to be sure I have all my bases covered.”
The Second Opinion Process: What to Expect
Getting a second opinion for cancer diagnoses or treatment protocols is relatively straightforward. You can ask your cancer specialist or family doctor for a referral to another physician, or you can seek options on your own.
Plus, Mosaic Life Care is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. That means we can send your information to a specialist at Mayo Clinic and receive a recommendation within five business days. This is available at no cost to you and does not require additional travel time or appointments.
If you choose to travel to another facility, it’s important for this doctor to know the exact details of your diagnosis and planned treatment. Staff at Mosaic Life Care will assist you in gathering this information including:
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery.
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report.
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary.
- A summary of your doctor’s current treatment plan.
- A list of all your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them.
Is a Second Opinion Covered By Medicare or Other Insurance Plans?
Before you start looking for a second opinion, contact your insurance company to find out what your policy covers. In some cases, you may have to get a second opinion from another doctor who is part of your health plan to ensure your treatment is covered.
Need help understanding your insurance coverage? Our Financial Navigator is available to assist you and can be reached at (816) 271-4057.
What If the Second Opinion Is Different From the First?
If you receive a second opinion that differs from your original doctor’s judgment, the following tips maybe helpful:
- Make an appointment with your first doctor to talk about the second opinion.
- Ask both doctors to explain how they arrived at their treatment plan.
- Ask them how they interpreted your test results.
- Ask what they have recommended to other patients in your same situation.
You may also want to do your own research on the latest treatment guidelines. Two good sources are the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Treatment Guidelines and the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) PDQ® Cancer Treatment Summaries. Both are available in versions for health professionals (which use medical language and terminology) and patients (which use everyday language).