A cancer diagnosis can be devastating and life-changing to the people of Missouri. The problem can be confounded even more if the condition is misdiagnosed or mistreated by a trusted physician. AARP cites a study where more than 20% of patients had been misdiagnosed by a primary caregiver. You have the right to feel good about what your treatment plan is, and there are times where the best way to do this is to get a second opinion from another physician or specialist.

You do not need a specific reason for a second opinion, but the American Cancer Society gives a few reasons that people have given:

  • The primary care physician is not a specialist
  • The patient wants to explore all available treatments
  • The doctor is not sure what the right diagnosis is
  • The patient does not understand the doctor very well
  • The diagnosis is unusual or rare

Many conditions are initially caught by a primary care physician, who is unlikely to be a specialist in the condition you have. For example, if you are diagnosed with cancer and you have to have a tumor removed, chemotherapy and radiation, you will need to see a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. This is a time when it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a second opinion.

Even when the problem is serious, there is no rush to make a decision about treatment. Take a few days and consider your feelings and thoughts. Discuss coverage with your health insurance, ask for a recommendation to another doctor and take all copies of your medical records with you.

Once you have received a second opinion and it agrees with the first, you are free to move forward with your preferred treatment plan. If it does not agree with the first, it may be time to speak to yet another doctor.

This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.