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Newly Diagnosed With Cancer

Before deciding on a treatment, consider getting a second opinion. Understand the pros and cons of each possibility.

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Second Opinions

It never hurts to get a second opinion, particularly if you have a rare condition or an unusual situation. Treatment is not generally one size fits all. Second opinions have become so standard that doctors are not offended when patients ask for second opinions. (If a doctor objects to your getting a second opinion, it is a valid reason to change doctors). 
Insurance companies generally pay for second and even third opinions. Check with your insurer before getting the opinion so you will know how much the opinion will cost. If you have to pay, you can negotiate the fee and a payment schedule.) 

Ideally the second opinion will come from a doctor experienced with your condition who is not in any way related to the doctor who gave you the first opinion. 

If you have difficulty getting the appointment with another doctor, ask your doctor's office to help. 

If the two opinions differ, don't accept the second opinion just because it is the last one you received. Perhaps the two doctors can come up with a joint recommendation if they talk. Otherwise, continue to get opinions and do research until you are comfortable making a decision.

Don't let a search for certainty provide a reason for stalling making a decision. 

To learn more about second opinions, including how to find a specialist, see the document in "To Learn More." 

Informed Consent

To be an educated consumer, you need to know what treatments are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Your doctor will describe the various treatments available and make a recommendation. (If you were diagnosed with an advance stage of cancer, or your situation is unusual, you may want to do additional research. See our information about this situation.)

Once you have the information you need, It is then up to you to decide which treatment to take depending on your particular values and goals. It is your body. The final decision is yours. For example, if you are in a critical period at work, you may want a treatment which interferes with your work ability the least.

The American Cancer Society describes the various treatments available at: offsite link. The various types of chemotherapy, with a description of the therapy and side effects, is located at: offsite link. Survivorship A to Z provides information about how to deal with each side effect. (Please see our general article about Side Effects and click on the one(s) in which you are interested.)

Treatment decision tools for each type of cancer are available through the American Cancer Society at offsite link

Survivorship A to Z provides a tool that helps you to compare treatments side by side so that you can evaluate which works best for your lifestyle and values. Please see the link in "To Learn More."

If there are no standard treatments available for your situation, consider joining a clinical trial. There may also be protocols to explore in foreign, developed countries. Watch out for fraudulent treatments. (Please see "To Learn More.")

NOTE: If you want to share what you learn about your cancer and treatment(s) with family and friends, consider using the American Cancer Society Circle of Sharing offsite link

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