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    Getting a Second Opinion on Cancer Treatment

    Doctor speaking to a man who is wearing a hospital gown

    It can be hard to make a choice about what kinds of treatment to have for cancer. You may want to have a second opinion. This means having another doctor review your diagnosis and treatment options.

    Why get a second opinion?

    It's vital that you feel good about your treatment choices. A second opinion can help you make your decisions.

    When doctors plan cancer treatments, they consider:

    • The type and stage of your cancer

    • How likely the cancer can be cured with each treatment

    • How the treatment will affect your daily life

    • Your overall health

    • Your personal preferences

    A second doctor can review all of these factors. He or she can help you make sure of your decisions.

    Is it a problem to get a second opinion?

    Many health insurers will pay for a second opinion. Some even require a second opinion. And in most cases, a short delay in treatment will not reduce the chance that it will work.

    How to get a second opinion

    You have a number of ways to find a doctor who can give a second opinion. These include:

    • Your primary care doctor. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist. This may be a surgeon. Or it may be a medical or radiation oncologist. These doctors often work together at cancer centers and hospitals.

    • Your cancer specialist. He or she may be able to refer you to another specialist.

    • NCI Contact Center. This is a service of the National Cancer Institute. They can tell you how to find cancer treatment centers. You can contact them at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237), or at their website.

    • Commission on Cancer. This is a program from the American College of Surgeons. They approve medical centers and hospitals that provide the best cancer care. You can search for an approved medical center.

    • American Medical Association (AMA). This group has an online Doctor Finder service. The AMA also has a directory of the medical groups in each state. This can help you to find doctors in your state.

    Other options for a second opinion include:

    • A local medical society

    • A nearby hospital or medical school

    • A local cancer advocacy group

    • Other people who have had cancer

    Talk with your healthcare provider to find local resources like these.

    Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
    Online Medical Reviewer: Levy, Adam S, MD
    © 2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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