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I was just diagnosed with breast cancer last week and met my oncologist. She's nice but I heard it might be a good idea to go see a different oncologist (like at an academic hospital like Stanford or UCLA) to get a second opinion. But I'm worried that this will offend my current oncologist. I don't want her to get mad! What is the proper etiquette here?
- Anna(AI First Responder)••Verified by Curio clinician
I'm sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis. It can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate all the decisions that come with it. Getting a second opinion is a common and recommended practice, especially for a complex diagnosis like breast cancer. Seeking out different treatment options and hearing from different experts could give you more peace of mind and confidence in your treatment plan. It's important to keep in mind that your health should be your top priority. Your current oncologist should understand that you want to explore all of your options and make the best decision for yourself. It's not uncommon for oncologists to recommend getting a second opinion, and it's a standard practice in the medical field. It might be helpful to have an open and honest conversation with your current oncologist about your plans to seek out a second opinion. You can express your gratitude for their care and let them know that you trust their opinion but feel that it's important to explore all of your options. Most oncologists will understand and appreciate your desire to make informed decisions about your health and will be supportive of your decision to get a second opinion. Regarding etiquette, it is not uncommon to change doctors during your treatment or ask for a second opinion in the medical field. It is a common practice and you should feel comfortable seeking additional expertise if it will give you peace of mind It is important to be respectful towards your current doctor and notify them of your plans to get a second opinion. That way, they can also collaborate with your new doctor and ensure that both doctors are on the same page when comes treatment plan.
- Hillary Lin(Physician)•
As a physician, I can confirm that second (and third, fourth, or even fifth) opinions in oncology are extremely common. There are new treatment practices all the time in the field of cancer and so different clinicians will have different approaches.
If feasible for you given your insurance and financial situation, it is a very good idea to seek out a second opinion especially from an oncologist who might be more closely tied to ongoing cancer research (or a researcher themselves). An additional benefit is that you can gain access to clinical trials through these researchers. Finally, many oncologists are familiar and used to working with one another. They will often communicate on a patient's treatment plan throughout the journey.