Cancer - Ask for a
You may want consider getting a second
opinion about your diagnosis and treatment plan.
There will be a delay in starting treatment if you or your
doctor requests a second opinion.
Medical records, mammogram films, pathology
reports, and biopsy slides will need to be gathered so the
second doctor will have all available tools to allow them to
make a diagnosis. And the second doctor may want to
Though your treatment may be delayed, it won’t
usually make that treatment less effective. Your doctor
will tell you if you are one of the patients that need to start
treatment right away.
You will want to take part in deciding on the treatments you
will receive. You may need time to recover emotionally
before some of the decisions need to be made. Shock and
stress can make it difficult to think clearly about all you are
hearing and you may not be able to think of all the questions
you want to ask your doctor.
Make a list of the questions you and your family need
answered. You will have it when you visit your doctor’s
office and you may want to take notes or record the answers on
a tape recorder so you can refer to them later.
A family member should go with you. Many times
when you are under stress, a family member can help you stay
calm, help you in your discussion with your doctor, take notes,
or even just listen.
We hear statements differently and our understanding can be
skewed by stress and emotional upheaval. If you don’t get
all of your questions answered on the first visit, there will
be other opportunities to talk to your doctor or nurse for
Some doctors may refer you to a specialist, or a cancer
center where doctors work together as a team. Local
hospitals, medical schools, or a state and local medical
society can provide specialists’ names. You will also
find a list of specialists by referring to the National Cancer
Institute at 1-800-4-cancer or through LIVEHELP at their
Other sources for finding specialists are, The American
Board of Medical Specialties. This list can be found at
most local libraries or at the web-site http://www.abms.org.
By clicking on the “Who’s Certified” tab, you will find a list
of Board Certified Medical Specialists. The National
Cancer Institute also has a fact sheet on how to find a doctor
or treatment facility if you have cancer.
At this stressful time in your life, if you have any doubts
or questions about your proposed treatment or your diagnosis,
it is best to get a second opinion. Most insurance
companies will pay for second opinions if one is
Information about your disease is also important in your
decision making about treatment choices. Arm yourself
with information about the disease and the treatment choices
that you will have. Education is the key to understanding
and coping with breast cancer.