Getting a second opinion is not uncommon in cancer care. At MaineHealth, we know how important it is to be confident in your breast cancer care approach and treatment. We want to make every effort to facilitate a second opinion, whenever the patient – and in many situations, the provider – wants to seek a second opinion. This is important to us, and our focus on patient-centered care.
What is a second opinion?
A second opinion is when a patient or physician seeks another physician specialist’s review of a patient’s diagnosis or recommended treatment. It is common in cancer, especially if a patient has an unusually complicated condition or rare form of the disease.
When you choose to obtain a second opinion, your physician forwards test results such as radiology images, blood work and pathology slides. The physician may recommend another physician specializing in that cancer, or the patient may find a specialist through a primary care physician, online research or a relative or friend’s recommendation.
To confirm that insurance will cover the cost of second opinion visits, it is recommended that you verify by contacting your insurance company directly.
Preparing for your visit
Like all visits for cancer care, when you are getting a second opinion, it’s helpful to write down your questions in advance and take notes during the conversation. Physicians often recommend that you bring someone with you to help you recall the discussion later. It can be difficult to process what you’re hearing especially if you’re scared or anxious about your condition.
Physicians also may seek another physician’s opinion either on a one-on-one basis, or by asking a multidisciplinary group of cancer specialists to review and weigh in on a patient’s diagnosis or treatment. This team of specialists includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists, as well pathologists, pharmacists and patient navigators. They meet regularly to review patients’ cases.
Where to go for a second opinion?
MaineHealth has sites where patients and their physicians may obtain second opinions. Each site includes breast cancer experts who have advanced training and experience.
Breast Care Center at Maine Medical Center
SMHC Center for Breast Care
Breast Health Program at St. Mary's Health System
For second opinions and coordinated care in the treatment of rare cancers, the first step for physicians who are referring patients is to contact the network’s oncology physician liaison, Jill Coyle MBA, BSN, RN firstname.lastname@example.org. Jill supports clinical and administrative collaborations between our team in Maine and other institutions that foster seamless care for our patients and enhanced communication for referring physicians.