Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Some people worry that the doctor will be offended if they ask for a second opinion. Usually the opposite is true. Most doctors welcome a second opinion. And many health insurance companies will pay for a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it. Some companies require a second opinion.
If you get a second opinion, the doctor may agree with your first doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan. Or the second doctor may suggest another approach. Either way, you'll have more information and perhaps a greater sense of control. You can feel more confident about the decisions you make, knowing that you've looked at your options.
It may take some time and effort to gather your medical records and see another doctor. In many cases, it's not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion. The delay in starting treatment usually won't make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor. Some people with a brain tumor need treatment right away.
There are many ways to find a doctor for a second opinion. You can ask your doctor, a local or state medical society, a nearby hospital, or a medical school for names of specialists.
Also, you can request a consultation with specialists at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
- Adults and children with a brain tumor: Specialists in the NCI Neuro-Oncology Branch provide consultations. The telephone number is 301-594-6767 or 866-251-9686.
- Children with a brain tumor: Specialists in the NCI Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Section of the Pediatric Oncology Branch provide consultations. The telephone number is 301-496-8009 or 877-624-4878.
The NCI Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) can tell you about nearby treatment centers. Other sources can be found in NCI's fact sheet How To Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer.
Nonprofit groups with an interest in brain tumors may be of help. Many such groups are listed in NCI's list of organizations that offer support services.