As in life, in medicine there are rarely black and white answers to questions and treatments for medical conditions. Many of us have experienced different doctors with different personalities who either fit with us or did not.  When situations arise and you need treatment or diagnostic evaluation, and you feel things are not going in the right direction; it might be time for a second opinion.

This is especially important for those diagnosed with cancer. There are now a variety of approaches for acute and maintenance therapies.  Some doctors may prefer radiation to chemotherapy and others may have other types of treatments in mind.  This is especially apparent for those with prostate cancer. Some doctors may recommend conventional surgery vs. robotic surgery vs. cryosurgery.  For therapy there may be ultrasound vs. radiation pellets vs. hormone therapy vs. a variety of experimental therapies.

As you can see, it is important to find the approach that fits with what you may want and what will work best for you.  It is your body and you need to make an informed decision. It may take a couple of opinions for you to figure it out.  Patients are often afraid they will offend their doctors. However, most doctors welcome a second opinion.  If you have one that does not, perhaps it is time to find another doctor.

Who should you see for that second opinion? I will usually encourage patients to go to a university medical center such as Oregon Health Sciences University or Stanford.  However, there are often specialists that are highly regarded in our own communities. Speaking to people with similar diagnoses and your own physician can help you to find them. As a physician, I welcome another pair of eyes looking at my patients and possibly seeing something I may have missed or finding a treatment I might not have thought of or realized that was available.

Providers are always talking about how important it is for patients to take responsibility for their own health as regards to diet and exercise. Part of being accountable for your own health includes being an informed patient.  Seeking a second opinion is very often essential in order to do just that.