Second and third opinions should be a standard part of your treatment plan. Whether you are newly diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer or you’re an old pro your care is not complete until you have had at least one set of additional eyes evaluate your situation.

Physicians from the same practice or hospital tend to think alike. Your second opinion should be from a doctor who does not have an affiliation with your primary care physician. To get the names of potential second opinion doctors you can speak with members of your support group, internet listserv, friends who also have prostate cancer, do an internet search or call up the names and specialties of doctors from another medical facility.

Telephone your health plan and confirm if they will cover second opinions. Most do, so take advantage of the benefit. If they don’t self-paying for the consultation is an excellent use of resources.

Prepare for the consultation. Obtain complete copies of your medical records, copy them and bring one copy with you to the consultation. In some hospitals and doctors offices you may have to pay a coping fee. Allow plenty of time to have the records copied; sometimes it can take weeks to get these copies. Once you get these copies make sure you maintain your personal file so that it is always up to date.

Take someone with you to the second opinion consultation. They will remember things you might forget. Ask them to actively participate in the meeting; they might raise which slip your mind.

Get a third opinion if the second one is not satisfactory.

Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that you are getting a second opinion. Competent doctors will welcome a second set of eyes. If the doctor gives you a hard time it is time to move on and find another primary treating physician.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW