Questions to Ask When Getting a Second Opinion for Cancer
If you’ve made the decision that you want to get a second opinion for your cancer diagnosis from another specialist, it can be completely understandable to be anxious about the situation; particularly when you might not know what to expect.
Whether you’re getting a second opinion privately or through your public healthcare system, they can be invaluable in helping you understand your treatment options and your diagnosis in more detail. However, in order to get the most from your consultation and to ensure you feel fully educated about the choices you have to make; it’s important to be make sure you are prepared. Being prepared can help you feel more at ease during the process. Whether your appointment is conducted online or in-person, it may be helpful to get a loved one to accompany you while as you may have a lot on your mind, it can be useful to write down a list of questions you want to ask before-hand. Your friend or relative can make sure you ask all the questions you would like the answers to.
What Questions Should You Ask During Your Second Opinion Appointment?
Before you attend the appointment, the doctor providing your second opinion should have had the opportunity to review your medical records, scans and images. From these, they will have conducted an assessment of your case in order to provide you with information on your diagnosis and treatment options during the appointment itself. This is where you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have and discuss your choices.
Do you have experience in dealing with the cancer I have in this form and type?
Getting to know the doctor who is giving you the second assessment and knowing if they have specific expertise and experience in your type of cancer can give you confidence and help to build trust. You want to know whether the oncologist you’re dealing with understands your diagnosis and can guide you through the best options.
What does my prognosis look like based on my diagnosis?
Understanding this is importance as depending on how serious your cancer is will have an impact on your choices.
Can you give me any specific details regarding stage and grade of the cancer?
A second opinion can give you the opportunity to gain more insight about your cancer. Asking the oncologist about what they have and the details about staging and grading can help you make an informed decision about your options in relation to your diagnosis.
What treatment options are available?
Depending on the second doctor’s assessment, they may advise a range of treatments that could work for you. You should ask exactly what and where treatments are available and discuss the implications of all of them.
Will I need more treatment after this treatment?
Thinking further ahead about what happens after you’ve had the treatment is important too. This is why you might want to ask if any other treatment will be needed in combination with the treatments recommended.
What is the end goal of the treatment?
Asking about the goal of the treatment can help you determine what you are getting out of it. Some treatments may be offered to cure the cancer while some may be recommended in order to reduce pain or symptoms, reduce growth or prolong survival.
What side effects are associated with treatment options?
It’s important to ask about side effects you could experience with any treatment as these could have an impact on your quality of life. While on one hand the treatment could reduce growth or cure the cancer, you may not be prepared to go through it if it leads to fertility issues, for example. Understanding potential side effects from the outset can help you make the best decision for you. You could ask about what can be done to minimise the impact from any potential side effects so you can manage these if they do occur.
Will I have to go abroad for treatment?
A second opinion can open up options and possibilities to consider other treatment that may be more advanced or further afield, sometimes even in another country. It’s important to ask where you can receive the treatment as going abroad may not be an option for some.
When can I get the treatment?
Time can be critical when it comes to treatment so therefore, asking when it is possible to get the treatment can be a perfectly valid question. Depending on your diagnosis, waiting may not be an option so the most suitable treatment for you could actually be one that you can access sooner.
Are there any clinical trials that would be right for me?
Taking part in a clinical trial can sometimes have a number of benefits for patients however they are not suitable for everyone. If a clinical trial is something you want to consider, check with your oncologist to see if there are any suitable trials that they would recommend.
How will the types of treatment you are suggesting affect my life?
Understanding how the treatment or combination of treatments that have been suggested may affect your life and daily activities is an important question to ask. You may want to learn what the impact on your work and home life will be or what type of activities you can or can’t undertake during and post-treatment. If you have children, you may want to consider what sort of impact the treatment will have on your ability to take care of them or whether you will need to seek additional help. How often the treatment is performed can have an impact on your daily life so asking about this too can be helpful to understand.
Cancer Second Opinion Services through OncoloMed
Oncolomed have guided and helped patients across the globe make an informed decision about their treatment options by facilitating second opinions with leading oncologists within our network.
Find out how we can help by booking a no obligation call with us; free of charge.
Alternatively, read a selection of stories from our patients to discover how we have helped.
Getting a second opinion for cancer from a different oncologist enables you to explore all your treatment options and helps to give you the information you need to make those important next steps.