Once you’ve received a breast cancer diagnosis, your first question will probably be “What are my options?” The second question might (and should) be: “Do you have a recommendation for a second opinion?”
If you receive any cancer diagnosis, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion. This valuable step either confirms your diagnosis or presents the possibility that it might be an incomplete or misdiagnosis. When the two conflict, you may even require a third opinion. Plenty of research supports the fact that a second opinion is quite important for a critical diagnosis like breast cancer. The Mayo Clinic, for example, found that 80% of second opinions differed from the first. That alone is reason enough to get a second opinion, isn’t it?
A second opinion also may suggest alternative treatment options. Having a second perspective can widen the possibilities when it comes to handling your diagnosis. Two heads are often better than one when it comes to your healthcare choices. You may find out about less expensive or less invasive alternatives. Even if the second opinion confirms that the original treatment plan is the best fit for your needs, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’re moving in the right direction in battling this disease.
Some patients are uneasy about getting a second opinion because they’re afraid of offending or upsetting their physician. If you’re afraid to ask your physician about a second opinion or if they become upset at the suggestion, you might just be seeing the wrong physician. As Jonathan Schaffer of the Cleveland Clinic said in this article, “It’s you and your doctor in this battle, not you against your doctor.” He suggests including your physician in your seeking a second opinion. This is a team effort and a second opinion can confirm his or her diagnosis or provide another angle that he or she might have missed.
To get a second opinion, you’ll need to provide the expert physician with your medical reports, mammograms, pathology reports and more. Begin making a habit of getting copies of your mammograms now so if and when you need to share them, you’ll have them. Often, patients facing a diagnosis feel anxious and want to move forward as quickly as possible. Having your own copies of your medical images and reports can facilitate the process of getting a second opinion more quickly.
Ask your physicians if they have a seamless way to digitally send all of the necessary health information to the physician for your second opinion. A platform like Expert View can help you avoid having to fax records or mail CDs, making this an easier, more efficient process for you, your physicians and their staff. This can save time, money and a headache for everyone involved.
If you’re facing a breast cancer diagnosis, talk with your doctor about getting a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your options. Lastly, if they don’t offer it, ask for an easier way to digitally access and share your mammograms and other health information for a second opinion.