The Answer to Your Question: Get a Second Opinion!

Last updated: March 2020

I’ve been talking to and working with bladder cancer patients and caregivers for five years. I have been a caregiver myself and I am a volunteer patient advocate.

Time and again, I read posts or hear people asking whether they should get a second opinion. They ponder whether now is finally the time to consider a second opinion.

Why is it important to get a second opinion?

I’ve noticed people seem to start considering second opinions after they have been treated for a while with BCG. They have had some recurrences. They start to wonder whether BCG is working. Or they receive a strangely inconclusive lab result that leaves them uneasy even though their doctor says not to worry. Or they come to a decision point about whether to continue BCG or to have their bladder removed.

Here is the answer: get a second opinion and get it now. Actually, it’s best to get a second opinion as soon as you are diagnosed. I know you may like your doctor very much. And so, you trust him or her implicitly.

Get a second opinion early on

But this isn’t about liking someone or even about trusting them. It is about getting as much expert input on your specific situation as soon as you can. I have known patients who were misdiagnosed originally – either with the wrong illness or the wrong variant of bladder cancer. These things happen. We like to believe they don’t happen to us but they can.

It takes time, but it's worth it

I often ask patients: what do you have to lose in getting a second opinion? Yes, it takes time and is a hassle. You have to get a referral and provide your records. Many insurance plans pay for a second opinion but some don’t. You may have to pay out of pocket and this could be several hundred dollars. You will have to take the time to go to the appointment and talk with yet another doctor.

So yes, there is time and possibly money spent on a second opinion. But what might you gain from it?

Gaining peace of mind

You might gain tremendous peace of mind by finding out that the second doctor agrees entirely with your original doctor. If so, you will have greater confidence in moving forward with your treatment plan. In choosing who you see for a second opinion, you will hopefully have chosen a doctor who specializes in bladder cancer. You will receive greater comfort about your treatment plan because this new doctor is a specialist. You might even decide to get treated by this new doctor.

A clear understanding of your treatment path

Conversely, the new doctor (who is a specialist in bladder cancer) may tell you that he or she believes you have a different diagnosis than the one originally given to you. Or the diagnosis might be the same but this doctor may recommend a different treatment path. Again, because you have chosen this doctor with special expertise in bladder cancer, you are inclined to reconsider your options and your future path.

You want to know all your options before you act. And you want to know them as soon as possible after you are diagnosed. I know of patients who have gotten third and fourth opinions. It may sound excessive but remember, this is your health, this is your life.

Invest in your health

We, as American consumers, tend to invest tremendous time and energy into buying a house or a car. Sadly, we often invest far less in our own health and medical treatment.

If you are wondering whether you should get a second opinion, wonder no more. Yes, you should.

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