Getting a Second Opinion

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Many women diagnosed with breast cancer feel a sense of urgency about jumping right in and starting treatment immediately. In most cases, though, there’s time to do some research to make sure your diagnosis is correct and your treatment plan makes sense — and this may include getting a second opinion.

Getting a second opinion means asking another breast cancer specialist, or a team of specialists, to review all of your medical reports and test results, give an opinion about your diagnosis, and suggest treatment options. A second opinion may confirm your original doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, provide more details about the type and stage of breast cancer, raise additional treatment options you hadn’t considered, or recommend a different course of action. Even if you’ve already had treatment, it’s not too late to get a second opinion. A second doctor can weigh in on your diagnosis and treatment plan to date, offering any additional thoughts or recommendations.

The very idea of getting a second opinion can seem overwhelming at first, especially when you’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It can take time and legwork to find a second doctor, arrange for the second opinion, and deal with any insurance issues that may arise. It also can be intimidating to tell your current doctor you want a second opinion. But many people with breast cancer decide to get second opinions, and doctors are used to hearing this request. In fact, your doctor may be able to help you find another specialist who can provide a second opinion. Some insurance companies even require a second opinion before treatment begins. In general, delaying the start of treatment for a short time usually does not pose a risk, although you and your doctor can discuss your situation and decide how much of a delay is OK.

This section of Breastcancer.org is designed to walk you through the second opinion process: how it might help you, what it typically involves, and how you can make sense of the results. And if you ultimately decide that you don’t need or want a second opinion, that’s fine, too — you’ve made the decision that’s right for you.

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