May 25, 2017

I want a second opinion. Is that reasonable?

After you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, it is very important to get as much information as possible. You should feel confident that you understand the prognosis, treatment options and the side effects of those treatments.

Having confidence in your understanding is a key part to moving forward with your treatment. If, for whatever reason, you are not confident in your doctor, it is alright to ask for a second opinion. Doing this does not mean that you are questioning your doctor’s competence. It just means that you want to confirm the diagnosis and plan with another doctor before committing to a treatment strategy.

Should you consider finding a second opinion or switching to another doctor? Ask yourself the following questions to see if you should consider getting a second opinion or even switching to a new doctor.

  • Does my doctor spend enough time with me? Some doctors are very busy. This could be a negative if you need them to spend time explaining the disease and treatment options to you. You should never feel rushed or nervous about how long your appointment is taking. If you do experience these feelings, it may be time to look for a new doctor, or at least to get a second opinion from a doctor who can spend a little more time with you.
  • Are all my questions being answered? Ideally, you will spend time researching your disease and treatment options before your appointment. Gaining this knowledge may give you a better understanding, but it will also bring up new questions. All these questions are worth asking because the answers will help you feel more confident about your knowledge and, therefore, more confident in your treatment plan. You need to find a doctor who is willing to spend the time to answer all your questions.
  • Is the language my doctor using clear, or is it too technical? It is your responsibility to tell your doctor when you do not understand because they are using technical or medical language. It is then their responsibility to use simpler language to help you understand. If a doctor is unwilling to do this, you should consider looking for a second opinion or switching to a new doctor.
  • Is there a language barrier? You want a doctor who can understand you and who you understand. If there is a language barrier, perhaps you should consider finding a doctor who can speak to you in your native language or in the language that you are most comfortable with.
  • Is my doctor’s office too far away from my home? It is also acceptable to get a second opinion or switch to a new doctor for more practical reasons. During your treatment for prostate cancer, you will be making relatively frequent trips to see your doctor. If it is not convenient to travel to your primary doctor’s office, perhaps you should look for someone nearer to your home. You certainly do not want traveling to the office for an appointment to be stressful.

The answers to these questions are important, but it is also acceptable to seek a second opinion so that you can simply confirm your diagnosis and treatment plan with someone else. Even if you are confident in your primary doctor, perhaps those close to you would feel better about your treatment if you got a second opinion.

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