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Seeking a second opinion? What you should know

Cancers are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. They also happen to be some of the most life-threatening, leaving individuals facing a high risk if they do not receive the proper diagnosis right away.

That is why it is so important to obtain a second opinion. It is especially important if you are concerned about your symptoms or feel any doubts about the diagnosis – or lack thereof – you received. However, many people worry: how should they approach obtaining a second opinion?

Four tips to consider when seeking a second opinion

You face enough stress worrying about a potential cancer diagnosis on top of a potential misdiagnosis. Securing a second opinion can help reduce that stress, but there are a few things you should remember as you move forward:

Get information about the first diagnosis: You should bring any notes you took when you received the first diagnosis. If you do not have notes, you can call your doctor to discuss the diagnosis again or record what you remember. What did your doctor say? What labs or tests did they run? Having this information available can be helpful as you seek a second opinion.

Find a trusted medical professional: One of the biggest concerns individuals have is who they should consult for a second opinion. It is possible to ask your doctor, but whether you are uncomfortable doing this or you lost trust in your doctor, you do have other options. It might be helpful to ask friends or family members if they have any recommendations, or research medical professionals in your area to make an appointment.

Bring someone with you: It is always beneficial to have a second pair of ears – and a second perspective – present when you speak with the doctor. You should ask a trusted family member or friend to accompany you. They can take notes for you and offer support while they help to ensure you get a proper diagnosis.

Ask questions: You should not be afraid to share your concerns or ask questions. For example, you have the right to ask what the specific tests analyze, and what the results mean. You can also ask how the doctor arrived at the treatment plan they offered. Your health takes priority, and you are your best advocate in these situations.

There are many reasons you might pursue a second opinion, but it is important to note that it never hurts to get a different perspective or more information about your diagnosis.

Medical professionals have an obligation to provide you with the best possible care. That starts with obtaining the proper diagnosis.