Your GP and multidisciplinary team (MDT) will use national treatment guidelines to plan the most suitable treatment for you. Many people are happy that the best treatment has been planned for them, but some people want a second opinion.
The most common reasons for requesting a second opinion are:
You may have doubts about your diagnosis
Some people ask for a second opinion because they are worried that their GP or consultant may have incorrectly diagnosed their condition. In this case, it’s important to ask for a further appointment so that you can talk to your GP or consultant about any issues. It may help to write down your concerns and show them to the doctor. If you’re unsure about any test results, remember you should be able to ask for a written copy of them and for your doctor to explain them to you.
You may not understand the information you have been given
Doctors know that many people find it difficult to take information in when they are anxious or upset. You can always ask for another appointment so that you can go through the information again before going for a second opinion. Many hospital consultants have a nurse specialist working with them who you can either see or phone after your appointment if you need more information. It’s also a good idea to take a relative or friend with you so they can help you remember what was said.
You may not be happy with the treatment your doctor has recommended
This could be because you have heard from somebody, read in a newspaper or seen on the internet that another treatment is better. It’s important to remember that even if you have the same type of cancer as someone else, the same treatment may not be suitable for you. That’s why doctors plan treatment on an individual basis. If you are concerned about your treatment, ask for a further appointment with your original doctor. You can talk to them about your concerns. They should be able to explain to you why they have recommended a particular treatment for you.
You may not feel you can talk to your doctor or specialist about your diagnosis or treatment
Some people ask for a second opinion because they find it difficult to talk to their original doctor or hospital consultant. If you feel like this, try telling them that you’re finding it hard to talk with them. This can often help. Or you could ask to see someone else in their team – for example the consultant’s registrar, a nurse specialist, or another GP in the practice.
We have a page about talking to healthcare staff, which has some helpful tips.