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Liver Cancer

  • Posted: 04/29/2009

Second Opinion

Before starting treatment, you may want a second opinion about your diagnosis, the stage of cancer, and the treatment plan. You may also want to find a medical center that has a lot of experience with treating people with liver cancer. You may even want to talk to several different doctors about all of the treatment options, their side effects, and the expected results. For example, you could discuss your treatment plan with a hepatobiliary surgeon, radiation oncologist, and medical oncologist.

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 second doctor may agree with your first doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan. Or the second doctor may suggest another approach. Either way, you 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 most cases, it's not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion. The delay in starting treatment usually will not make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor.

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. Specialists in the NCI Surgery Branch provide consultations and surgical care for people with liver cancer. The telephone number is 301-496-4164. 

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 the NCI fact sheet How To Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer.