Updated: Aug 14
We can’t debate it; doctors are for sure great at their craft. Some might even say they’re magical beings who enter uncharted territories that only the brave can stomach (we’re looking at you, Dr. Pimple Popper). Although they seem to have superhero capabilities to deal with the awful things that can happen to the human body, it is important to remember that doctors are also only human. Each year, nearly 12 million people in the United States are misdiagnosed; many of those cases relating to cancer diagnoses. Because mistakes can happen, it is important to get a second opinion when diagnosed with a life threatening or life altering condition. Of course we aren’t saying to kick your doctor to the curb. But, each doctor has an area of specialty, and it’s important to find a doctor that specializes in your current needs. I mean, you wouldn’t want to be told you have thyroid cancer from a ophthalmologist, right?
So what can a person in your shoes do? You can take your health into your own hands. Never feel afraid to speak up for your life by requesting a referral from your doctor to seek another opinion. Most times, your doctor will be understanding and if they aren't, it may be telling sign that you should consider someone else.
How To Ask For a Second Opinion
Speak with your primary care doctor and/or attending physician about the details of your diagnosis. Bring a trusted family member or friend to accompany you and help you digest the information. The details can be overwhelming to understand all at once.
Discuss “next steps” with your doctor. Before finalizing any treatment plans, inform your doctor that you would like to seek a second opinion from an oncologist that specializes in that type of cancer.
Who knows. You may even be able to get your doctor to recommend someone they know in the field.
Research oncologists and treatment centers that specialize in your area of diagnosis.
Reach out to your insurance company. Most insurance companies won’t approve you to see a specialist unless you are referred by another doctor.
Note: Be sure to confirm with your insurance company that the new doctor is within network and ask if they can assign you a case manager.
Gather your medical reports from your primary care physician and/or attending physician. Call your doctor's office to request pathologist slides and reports, and where to pick them up. What you should have are your:
Written report of CT/PET Scan
Written report of biopsy
Written report of surgery - When/if they removed any tumors
Note: You should keep a copy of all results, pathologist slides, and paperwork for your own personal records.
Schedule a new patient appointment with the oncology specialist. You may need to send your reports to the specialists office prior to your visit for review.
About the Author:
Carlene Blair is the Founder & CEO of Cancerversity, Carlene was diagnosed with stage 2B Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 22. After being diagnosed with cancer at a pivotal point in her life and having learned of the healthcare disparities for BIPOC through research and her own personal experiences, Carlene created Cancerversity to help young women of color navigate the ups and downs of a cancer diagnosis and to remove the stigmas around discussing cancer in the black community. Carlene is now in remission and hopes to continue providing a platform where thrivers and survivors feel comfortable sharing their stories.
Founder & CEO
Cancerversity opens conversations about cancer survival, statistics, treatments, and screening practices to bridge the gap in health equity for young women of color. The Cancerversity community welcomes young adult cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers.
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