How do cancer doctors feel about their patients getting second opinions?
Some patients may feel as though asking for a second opinion may be interpreted as a loss of confidence in their physician. Maintaining a good relationship and communicating clearly is paramount between a physician and patient. For various reasons, many individuals with cancer will seek out the opinion of another specialist including to confirm their diagnosis, to learn more about their disease, or to expand their treatment options.
A recent study published in JAMA Oncology examine the challenges oncologists encounter when confronted with second-opinion requests, and how they feel about the matter.
Interestingly, physician proponents highlight the possibility of health gains, improved acceptance of initial diagnosis, and decreased anxiety for a patient and their family. The article further describes that "many oncologists were well-able not to automatically feel offended by patients' second opinion requests". They conclude that seeking another opinion can lead to a firm and positive outcome - "second opinions can strengthen the physician-patient relationship after back-referral". Second opinions may result in different diagnostic or therapeutic recommendations. When seeking an online consultation, or wishing to visit an alternate cancer center, patients should feel secure - according to the study most referring specialists perceived that their relationship with their patient had strengthened... particularly when both opinions aligned, patients gained certainty, acceptance and trust.
For more details, see what University of Amsterdam doctors in the Netherlands report regarding the challenges encountered by oncologists when patients request second opinions: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/fullarticle/2697220