Getting a second opinion is always a good idea. Doing so can serve two purposes: If the second opinion is the same as the first, it can confirm that your first doctor is on the right track. If it is different than the first, it can open up choices that you might not have considered. Either way, it is important that you feel comfortable about getting a second opinion. Some people fear that their doctor will be insulted if they ask for a second opinion. A doctor should understand that second opinions are valuable to make sure you have explored all your treatment options and some actually suggest that you get a second opinion. If your doctor feels threatened or offended when you want a second opinion, it may make you rethink your relationship.

When is it especially important to get a second opinion?

  • If you have been given no hope. It may be that your cancer is advanced and there are sound medical reasons why it cannot be treated. But far too often, a doctor will say nothing can be done without giving the person the choice to try.
  • If you are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer and have been told surgery is not an option. There are many situations in which surgery is not possible–most stage IV cancers or earlier stages when the cancer is located in a difficult area or other medical conditions make it impossible. However, talking with a surgeon who specializes in lung cancer is important just to be sure.
  • If you have concerns about your healthcare team. You have the right to compassionate care and need to have enough information about your treatment options to be able to make good decisions

Not all second opinions will make decision-making easier. Your second opinion doctor may offer a choice that is completely different from the first. Some people even get third and fourth opinions from doctors who are highly regarded in their field, with each doctor suggesting something different. Just because two doctors differ in their approach does not always mean that one way is better than the other. You may reach a point where you simply have to go with what makes the most sense to you.