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Why You Need a Second Opinion

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Dr. Caitlin Patten

Breast Surgical Oncologist

Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin

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Getting a breast cancer diagnosis is not something to be taken lightly. It often means months – even years – of treatment ahead. So it makes sense to get a second medical opinion to ensure you’re following the best treatment plan for your situation.

But many people aren’t sure how to ask for a second opinion or where to get one. Here are answers to the most common questions:

Why should I get a second opinion?

Getting a second opinion allows another set of eyes to review your information and weigh in on your initial diagnosis and treatment recommendations. It potentially opens the door to additional treatment options, including new surgical techniques or clinical trials.

Who should seek a second opinion?

Anyone diagnosed with breast cancer should consider seeking a second opinion, even if it seems like they have ordinary, easy-to-treat cancer.

When should I get a second opinion?

Usually patients look into getting a second opinion after receiving their initial diagnosis and treatment recommendation, however you can get one at any point during your treatment. Because breast cancer is slower growing, there is little risk to delaying treatment for one to two weeks to seek out a second opinion.

Will asking for a second opinion offend my doctor?

Many people are afraid to seek a second opinion out of fear they’ll offend their doctor. However, doctors understand the need to get a second opinion and want you to feel comfortable and confident with your provider and care.

How can I find a doctor to get a second opinion?

One of the best options is to ask your doctor where you can go to get one. You can also ask the nursing staff or even get a recommendation through word of mouth. You might also reach out to your health insurance provider  for doctors who are in-network.

What if the second opinion is different from the initial recommendations?

If the second opinion is different from the initial opinion, you should consider which provider you feel the most comfortable with. It may come down to credentials or if one doctor is more specialized in treating breast cancer. Sometimes people opt to have the first doctor carry out the second doctor’s treatment recommendation. If you’re really struggling to decide, getting a third opinion may be necessary.

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network aims to provide second opinions within 7 days of a patient’s initial breast cancer diagnosis. Our fellowship-trained doctors work as a team to review each patient’s diagnosis and treatment plan before making our own recommendations.

To learn more about getting a second opinion for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, talk to your primary care provider.

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