What are they, and why they matter.
When your child has cancer, you may wonder if you’re making the right decisions and covering all your bases. If you have any concerns, you might consider a second opinion.
What is a second opinion?
Second opinions are when a different doctor reviews a patients’ medical history and test results to confirm a diagnosis and/or course of care. As a parent or guardian, you can get one for your child. Your doctor can, too.
Why should I get a second opinion?
The best cancer treatment comes from the right diagnosis. Diagnosis isn’t always easy, and certain treatments aren’t available everywhere. Different methods or technologies may provide a unique, valuable perspective.
A second opinion can reassure you that you’re making the best decisions for your child. It can also help you talk to your child’s doctor about available treatment options.
You might want a second opinion if:
- Your child has a rare cancer, and you want to consult with a specialist in that type.
- You want to confirm the outlined treatment aligns with the latest standard of care.
- You want to review other treatment options, like clinical trials.
When is the best time for a second opinion?
The best time for a second opinion is right after your child’s diagnosis. However, if your child is too sick, you shouldn’t delay treatment. In this case, begin treatment and stabilize your child’s health before seeking a second opinion.
You may also seek a second opinion when:
- A new or different therapy is recommended, like a new drug or a cancer surgery.
- Your child’s condition or diagnosis has changed.
- Current treatments aren’t working like they should.
Do doctors welcome second opinions?
Absolutely. Some doctors may request that you get one.
The pediatric cancer community is relatively small and close-knit. It includes doctors who are committed to doing everything they can for kids. They want children, wherever they get care, to have the best possible chance to live.
Most doctors appreciate the opportunity to share expertise for the benefit of children.
How do I get a second opinion?
First, tell your current doctor that you want a second opinion. They may recommend a provider with special expertise in your child’s cancer or experience with a certain treatment.
You can request a second opinion by calling the pediatric cancer center for an appointment. You’ll be asked to gather and share certain information. Once the specialist has time to review everything, you’ll have a chance to talk to them and ask questions.
Your child’s second opinion could be a video visit or telephone call. If you live nearby or your child can travel, you might have an in-person visit.
What do I need for a second opinion appointment?
Generally, you’ll be asked to provide:
- Child’s name and age
- Parent/guardian contact information
- Insurance information
- Current physician’s name and contact information
- Diagnostic scans (actual scans if possible)
- Biopsy slides (if possible)
- Clinical reports (labs, pathology, radiation or surgery summaries)
- Written treatment plan
Are second opinions covered by insurance?
In most cases, yes. It’s important to check your plan for details.
Second Opinions at Nemours Children’s Health
Families and doctors from all over the world consult with our experts at the Nemours Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. As a Children’s Oncology Group-affiliated pediatric cancer center, we’re researching childhood cancers and offering insight and care not available everywhere.
To schedule a second opinion, request an appointment today.