Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion from another doctor about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Some people worry that their 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 may also feel more confident about the decisions you make, knowing that you've looked carefully at all of your options.
It may take some time and effort to gather your medical records and see another doctor. Usually it's not a problem if it takes you several weeks to get a second opinion. In most cases, the delay in starting treatment will not make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this possible delay with your doctor. Some people with skin cancer 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, or a nearby hospital or a medical school for names of specialists.
Also, you can get information about treatment centers near you from NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237) and at LiveHelp. Other sources can be found in the NCI fact sheet How To Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer.