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If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be wondering whether you should seek a second medical opinion on your diagnosis and recommended course of treatment.
The answer is yes. In doing so, you are exercising your right to assert control over your body at a time when it would be all too easy to surrender without question to your doctorâ€™s conclusions.
Some insurance companies, in fact, require that you obtain a second opinion. Many others will pay for a second opinion upon request.
When dealing with such a serious issue, you should not fear offending your doctor by requesting another opinion. Some doctors even suggest it themselves; itâ€™s a routine part of the medical process.
You should also not worry about a brief delay in beginning your treatment. Studies indicate that postponing therapy for a couple of weeks while investigating all of your options will not negatively impact the effectiveness of your treatment.
You may want to ask your doctor to recommend another physician who can render an opinion. If you go this route, make sure you request a doctor who is not part of the same medical practice.
If your current doctor is not a breast cancer specialist, it is advised that you get a specialist for your second opinion. Most public libraries have a book called Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists, which is organized by specialty, and then geographically by state and city.
Another option is to contact a local breast cancer support organization. In addition to providing information about breast cancer, these organizations often have support group meetings. Support group meetings present an excellent opportunity to meet breast cancer survivors who can tell you first hand which physician(s) they would or would not recommend.
When you go for your second opinion, you should take your current doctorâ€™s diagnosis and treatment plan with you, along with your pathology report. You should also take all related test results, tissue slides, x-rays and/or other imaging you have undergone so they will not need to be redone. However, some doctors being asked to provide a second opinion will request that tissue removed during your biopsy be examined by another pathologist.
There is an excellent chance that your second opinion will mirror your first opinion with regard to diagnosis and treatment recommendations. If so, you can move forward with treatment, confident that you are doing the right thing.
If the second opinion does not concur with the first, your are faced with the dilemma of opting for a third opinion, or returning to your original doctor and requesting that he or she engage in a constructive dialogue with the doctor who rendered the conflicting opinion. Itâ€™s possible that after they each share the reasons for their opposing opinions, they will find common ground and agree on the best course of action for you.
The important thing is that you must ultimately be able to trust and believe in the persons charged with your care, so that you can focus your energies on getting better and moving ahead with your life.