NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Part 2: Dealing with the diagnosis
Exploring your options
When you’ve been diagnosed with cancer it’s perfectly
natural to want to get the cancer out of your body right
away. And in some cases—such as acute leukemia—time
really is of the essence. But the truth is that most cancers
are not that urgent, as long as treatment can begin within
a few weeks of diagnosis. So it makes sense to take the
time to get a 2nd opinion and be certain you are working
with doctors who understand the unique needs of AYAs
with cancer and have experience treating patients with the
type of cancer you have.
Getting a 2nd opinion
Even if you like and trust your doctor, it is usually a good
idea to get a 2nd opinion. Evaluating a biopsy sample
requires skill and a practiced eye, and there is always a
possibility that another doctor will see something the first
pathologist missed. A new oncologist may also be able to
present a different perspective on the type of treatment
that’s best for you. For example, a surgical oncologist
may suggest that surgery is your best option, while a
medical oncologist may suggest chemotherapy.
If nothing else, a 2nd opinion can confirm that your
first doctor and pathologist got it right. (Most doctors
understand the importance of a 2nd opinion. If your
doctor gets angry or insulted at the idea, it may be time
for a new doctor.) Getting a 2nd opinion is particularly
Your doctor has limited experience treating the type
of cancer you have,
Your test results were borderline or inconclusive,
You live in a rural area,
You have a rare type of cancer,
You are interested in enrolling in a clinical trial, or
Your doctor has said there’s nothing to be done.
Many insurance companies will pay for a 2nd opinion.
Check with your insurance company about its rules on
2nd opinions—including potential out-of pocket costs if the
doctors you choose are not part of your insurance plan.