Getting a Second Opinion
When you’re facing cancer treatment, it’s normal to wonder if you could find better treatment elsewhere or if another treatment option could be better. Getting a second opinion about your leukemia might help you feel more confident about your diagnosis and treatment plan.
Is there enough time?
Treatment decisions should be made after you have learned everything you can about your diagnosis, available treatment options, and prognosis. In aggressive leukemias, some treatment decisions may need to be made immediately. Typically, though, you can take time to think about the treatment options you have and explore a second opinion. If you are unsure whether there’s enough time, ask your doctor.
Why get a second opinion?
- Your insurance company requires a second opinion before you start treatment.
- You want to be positive you’ve explored all options.
- You have a rare subtype of leukemia.
- You feel your doctor may be underestimating how serious your leukemia is.
- You think another treatment might be available.
- Your doctor does not specialize in your type of leukemia.
- Your doctor gives you more than one treatment option.
- You’re having issues communicating with or understanding your doctor.
- You just want to know that you were diagnosed correctly and are making the right choice for treatment.
Deciding where to get a second opinion
Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion for a leukemia diagnosis and might even require one. Before you make an appointment for a second opinion, be sure to ask your insurance company what costs they will cover.
Let your doctor know you want to get a second opinion. Most doctors understand the importance of a second opinion and will encourage you to feel comfortable with your treatment plan before moving forward. Ask your doctor if they can recommend a medical center or another doctor.
There are several websites available that may help you find medical centers and doctors, and get more information on their specialties, treatments offered, and more. For a list of these websites and more information on finding a doctor or medical center, view our Choosing a Treatment Provider page.
Preparing for your appointment
It’s critical to give the new doctor the exact details of your diagnosis and treatment plan. Make sure you have the following information available for your second opinion appointment.
- A copy of the visit summaries from any medical visits related to your diagnosis and treatment plan.
- A summary of your doctor’s treatment plan.
You can obtain all of this information from your doctor or the medical center that treated you.
Making sense of the second opinion
If the second opinion is the same as the first, you should feel more confident about your leukemia diagnosis and treatment plan.
If the second opinion differs from the first, you may be unsure how to move forward. Here are some potential next steps that may help.
- Schedule an appointment with your first doctor to discuss the second opinion.
- Ask if the two doctors can review your case together. Doctors, especially those with the same specialties, tend to be very collaborative and willing to work with one another to provide the patient with the best possible care.
- Ask both doctors to clarify how they arrived at their diagnosis or decided on your treatment plan.
- Ask both doctors how they interpreted your test results.
- Ask what research or professional standards they consulted.
- Ask what they have recommended to other patients in your same situation.
- You also might need to engage a third doctor to discuss the two opinions and get their thoughts on your situation.