Evaluating Other Cancer Options

For individuals seeking options beyond standard of care.

With a cancer diagnosis, you can be faced with life altering decisions. Often information, questions and treatment plans are discussed at a rapid pace, which may become overwhelming. It can be challenging to make decisions about standard treatment options (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation, etc.) versus exploring research options through enrollment in a clinical trial. Many people seek the knowledge and advice of more than one physician to evaluate treatment options, and this is called a second opinion.

Mary Crowley Physician Investigators see a number of patients seeking another opinion when standard cancer treatments are not desired or no longer effective. A second opinion at Mary Crowley may provide details about the type of cancer and its current status such as:

  • A description of where the cancer is located
  • Whether the cancer has spread
  • Whether the cancer is affecting other parts of the body
  • A description of the genes within the cancer
  • Agreement or disagreement on the patient’s current treatment plan
  • Additional or alternative treatment options, including other standard of care options or clinical trials
  • Which clinical trials might be applicable

Paying for a Second Opinion

Most insurance providers pay for a second opinion when cancer is suspected or diagnosed. It is always best to contact your insurance provider to discuss your specific coverage prior to meeting with a new physician, and Mary Crowley staff have the ability to verify your insurance coverage prior to scheduling an appointment. Some insurance providers even require a second opinion before they will pay for cancer treatment.

Finding a Physician for a Second Opinion

Let your Physician or Primary Oncologist know if you wish to seek a second opinion. Most physicians understand the value of a second opinion, and they are not offended when patients seek one. They may even assist you in scheduling an appointment.

Preparing for the Appointment

Prior to scheduling an appointment with a Mary Crowley Physician Investigator, Mary Crowley staff will contact your Primary Oncologist to request relevant medical records. The Physician Investigator providing the second opinion will need these in order to make a proper evaluation. The typical information needed to perform an adequate review includes: pathology reports; information on all prior therapies (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.); radiographic imaging (CT, PET or MRI); and blood work (labs). Often it is helpful to bring actual images from radiographic imaging tests, and most imaging facilities can download these onto a disk for ease of transfer.

Tips for Getting the Information You Need During the Appointment

  • Take notes; writing down information from the physician allows you to review it later
  • Take another person to the appointment with you to help you remember the discussion
  • Ask questions and request clarification if the Physician Investigator says something you do not understand. It is important to feel confident that you have the information you need to make the best decision.