The very word “Cancer” itself is heart-wrenching not only for the patient but for the whole family. It is an overwhelming situation. The sense of urgency to start the treatment as soon as possible waves over the whole family.
Treatment of cancer consists of chemotherapies, radiotherapies, and precision medicine. It is a long journey with numerous ups and downs. During this period, there are multiple junctures where we are in doubt regarding the treatment, modalities, and an alternate way to do this or a better way to do it.
We all hope for an excellent outcome with treatment and cure for cancer. Even with the best medical knowledge and the latest treatment protocol, achieving a cure – a patient’s psychological condition is a very important aspect of a treatment protocol. The belief is that the best care is given for cancer and to achieve this trust – sometimes an expert opinion is taken from another consultant. This is known as a “Second Opinion”. One of the most common practices in medical practice esp India.
FIRST, It is your right as a patient. One needs to be 100 % sure about their treatment plan and there should be no room for any doubt. It is also important that the 2nd opinion must be taken from a qualified expert or a panel of multidisciplinary expert oncologists to get the most scientific opinion.
Anytime- is the right time to get a second opinion. Before starting chemotherapy, within cycles of chemotherapy. Just right after diagnosis, before starting chemotherapy is the best time for a second opinion. Just make sure, to avoid a long delay in taking a second opinion- it is always better to start correct and prompt treatment after diagnosis.
Though taking a second opinion is a cumbersome, time- taking process to start treatment against a life-threatening disease a clear mind is always beneficial. Sometimes, second opinions are life-saving decisions. They relieve anxiety and stress. Pre-treatment counseling helps us to have a better understanding of the diseases/ treatment involved.
Mostly, the second opinion will be similar to the primary opinion- it is a win-win situation for the team. Now you can be 100% sure of diagnosis/treatment/protocol and way ahead. But if it differs from the primary opinion, then go ahead and clear discussion with the primary physician. There is a good chance that two brilliant minds will come together and discuss the further plan and find a common plan. You can always select your treating physician based on comfort level. .
The second opinion is the RIGHT of every Patient. With a second opinion, you are acquiring more knowledge and confidence about your diagnosis, gaining trust in the whole process of cure for cancer.
Oncologists do understand the dilemma in the patient’s mind. They are not offended by your request of seeking a second opinion regarding the diagnosis/treatment plan. To solve any confusion in your mind, sometimes they encourage a second opinion. Open communication with your onco-physcian is always beneficial.
After you have secured your appointment for a second opinion, take a notepad and jot down your doubts and purpose for taking a second opinion .