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Does Second Opinion Matter in Cancer?

Updated on 19 October 2022

A cancer diagnosis and treatment is a life-altering experience for patients. Cancer can affect any part of the body and can be life-threatening as well. Cancer treatment also takes a toll on one's life. An initial impression of a cancer diagnosis can foster feelings of stress, fear, anxiety, and overwhelm.

These feelings can stem from the fear of the unknown, not having much information about your condition or just plain worry for life. To combat this fear, patients feel an urgency to begin treatment, or they give up on life if their cancer is diagnosed to be terminal. It is therefore important that patients who are diagnosed with cancer get a second opinion. Second opinions are not only a patient's right but are also highly recommended in a serious condition like cancer.

Why Get A Second Opinion on Cancer?

There are several reasons why second opinion matters in cancer. Here are a few reasons why patients must get a second opinion if they have been diagnosed with cancer.

  1. Getting a second opinion is every patient's right: As a patient, it is your right to seek a second medical opinion so that you understand your condition better and are more confident in and aware of your course of treatment.
  2. You do not understand completely about your condition:  Most patients want to get a second opinion to confirm the initial diagnosis or because they do not understand all the facts about their diagnosis.
  3. Gives you more choices: A different panel of oncologists may have different opinions on your cancer and its course of treatment than your initial doctor. This gives you more treatment options and helps you decide how you want to proceed with your cancer treatment. Moreover, you will get to know more about the risks and benefits of cancer drugs from them as well. 
  4. Cancer is a highly misdiagnosed disease: It has been found that at least 10%–20% of cancer cases get misdiagnosed, and of these cases, at least 28% of misdiagnoses are life-threatening. Therefore, when it comes to cancer, second opinions, talking to specialists, and getting regular scans can be life-saving.
  5. Cancer may be diagnosed at later stages: The earlier the cancer is caught, the better the chances of successful treatment. However, often, a doctor may ignore the changes in patients' scans or overlook cancer symptoms. Sometimes a pathologist may overlook cancer markers. Therefore, if you feel like you have been having symptoms you are unsure of but have been told everything is fine, do not hesitate to go for a second opinion.
  6. Rare Type of Cancer: There are several types of cancer. The treatment for rare cancer may be trickier. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with a rare type of Cancer and you want to look for a second opinion from an oncologist who specializes in those types of cancer, you must. Also, cancer care is often collaborative care; your doctor may anyway talk to other specialists and discuss your treatment options.
  7. If you are not comfortable with your current doctor: It is absolutely fine and even recommended to change your doctor if you are not comfortable with him/her. Cancer treatment requires the patient to be confident and believe in their treatment plan. So you must get a second opinion and go to a doctor who makes you comfortable and aware of your situation.
  8. You want to see a specialist: Different types of oncologists may specialize in different types of cancers. So, if your current oncologist does not specialize in cancer that you have been diagnosed with, go for a second opinion from someone who does. This will help you understand vital facts about your cancer opinion and its treatment.
  9. There are different courses of treatment prescribed: There can be different ways to treat cancer. Going to different doctors at the best cancer hospitals in Hyderabad can help you decide which is the most recommended treatment for your specific case. This allows you to lay down the confusion and choose one treatment plan that you are more confident in and comfortable with.
  10. Your insurance company requires you to do so: Many times, insurance companies may require you to get a second opinion to avail of your insurance. So, in this case, you will have to get a second opinion.
  11. To get some peace of mind: The most important objective of getting a second opinion is that you get some peace of mind. As taxing as a cancer diagnosis may be on your physical and mental health, knowing your condition completely, talking to various doctors, and being confident in your choices can help you fight cancer more strongly and with a good attitude. And sometimes that's all that you need. 

So yes, second opinions matter in all types of diseases and especially in cancer; it can even be life-saving. Getting a second opinion can give you much-needed confidence in your treatment plan and bring you peace of mind. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, stay positive, look for opinions from other specialists, and have faith in your treatment.

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