Getting an accurate professional second opinion

After receiving a diagnosis many people seek other treatment options but getting a good second opinion can get tricky. Dr. David Kuczer helps us understand where, when and how we should find an accurate second opinion.
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Why patients suffering cancer should seek a second opinion? Isn’t it better to act as soon as one has a first diagnosis?

Fortunately a second medical opinion causes no delay for the beginning of a treatment. Cancer is a chronic disease that develops over years. It also takes often a few weeks to get all the necessary results together before a treatment strategy can be assessed. Acute situations that need immediate action are usually not the regular case. According to my experience many patients still have open questions and worries that could not be discussed to the extent that they needed in the time between the diagnosis and the treatment.

You have to keep in mind that the job of a hospital is to help as many people as possible. But since the amount of personal is limited, there are also limits to the time that a doctor has for every single patient. Uncertainty can be a significant stress factor if you are confronted with a potentially dangerous health issue. A wonderful benefit of a medical opinion in this situation is to clarify open questions, explain the pathway that lays ahead and by that relief the patient from that stress.

At what stage should patients suffering cancer seek a second opinion?

Every time there is an open question, a new situation or a decision between two treatment pathways, a second opinion from an independent specialist could provide you with valuable information.
A wonderful benefit of a second medical opinion is to clarify open questions, explain the pathway that lays ahead and by that relief the patient from that stress.

What happens when the initial diagnosis and the second opinion are contradictory?

This usually hardly happens, since most diagnoses are proven by a biopsy. One question that is sometimes asked is if there is a treatment alternative that would be as effective and well tolerated. This would apply for example to prostate cancer or some tumours of the brain. Sometimes there is a situation in which an additional test could provide further helpful information to the current stage of a cancer disease. And some patients ask for advice to improve their quality of life.

How can patients decide what’s best for them after getting a second opinion?

For many cancer situations there is a “gold standard” procedure that yielded the best results so far. For some tumours there may be an equivalent alternative. In this case an independent impartial explanation of the pros and cons of each treatment option can help to decide which method suits you best.
Sometimes there is a situation in which an additional test could provide further helpful information to the current stage of a cancer disease.

What is the average cost of getting a second opinion?

This depends usually on the amount of time necessary to review medical records and assess the situation on which the opinion bases. At our clinic the basic rate is 150 €. But if there are many documents and scans to review we inform patients of eventual higher costs prior to consultation.

Who are the specialists patients should turn to in order to get an accurate second opinion?

The specialist you consult should be experienced in the treatment of your cancer. You may ask for experience prior to consultation.

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