Seeking a Second Opinion for Breast Cancer

Scheduling an appointment with another physician can help you identify additional treatment options or feel more confident in your original care plan.

When you or someone you love receives a breast cancer diagnosis, it may feel like time is of the essence. It’s normal to want to start treatment right away, but it is often a good idea to get a second opinion before deciding on your treatment and care team.

There are many types of breast cancer and many treatment options available depending on the stage and subtype you have. Making sure you know about all the options available to you, or having a second doctor agree with your recommended treatment plan, is often the best step to take before moving forward.

“Finding out that you have breast cancer is life changing, and the best thing you can do is weigh all of your options with a physician you trust,” says surgical oncologist Lori Alfonse, DO, Deputy Physician in Chief of Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute. “Seeking out a second opinion should be encouraged by all physicians, and I certainly welcome individuals who come to me for that purpose.”

The benefits of second opinions

There are many reasons why seeking a second opinion is worthwhile:

· Additional treatment options – There are many treatment options for breast cancer. Identifying which will provide you with the best chance for a successful outcome is crucial. Seeing a second physician can allow you to be presented with all your options, including clinical trials (which may not be available at other institutions).

· Confirmation of your original treatment plan – Even if a second physician confirms that your original recommendation is your best option, the appointment will not have been a waste. Knowing that you’re undergoing the best treatment for your specific disease, and having a second specialist confirm it, can bring you a lot of relief as you start the next stage of your cancer journey.

· Access to a multidisciplinary clinic team – For cancer, it’s often best to have a team of specialists review your diagnosis and medical history before tailoring a treatment plan unique to you. That’s where multidisciplinary clinic teams come in. Made up of doctors and other clinicians who understand the nuances of your cancer, this team approach can identify the specifics of your condition and evaluate your best options from multiple medical perspectives. These teams aren’t available at every health network, so it’s a good idea to make sure you are receiving at least one opinion from an institution that offers this approach.

Second opinions at Lehigh Valley Health Network

At LVHN, we offer individuals seeking a second opinion for breast cancer a multidisciplinary clinic team approach to evaluation and care. This involves your specific case being reviewed by doctors, advanced

practice clinicians and other clinicians who specialize in breast cancer. This team will help you understand your diagnosis and the treatment options specific to your condition. Also, through our membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance and partnerships with other medical organizations, we offer clinical trials that may provide additional options not available at other institutions in the area.

“When you come to the Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute for a second opinion, our goal is to make you feel more comfortable walking out than when you came in. We gather all your information ahead of time, come up with a plan, sit down and explain things in terms that are easy to understand,” says Alfonse. “Our multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer care is also incredibly important. When you have three specialists working together to identify the best treatment options for you as an individual, you can feel confident that you are in good hands.”

Our breast cancer physicians also know how important it is to be seen quickly. We offer individuals appointments within 24-48 hours of when they reach out to schedule an appointment.

How do I get a second opinion?

At LVHN, seeking a second opinion is as easy as submitting an online form or calling 888-402-LVHN. Once you have an appointment scheduled, you will need to provide information about your current diagnosis and treatment. If you are coming from another health system, you can request medical records and other information be provided for the second opinion.

Should you decide to transfer care into or out of another practice, it’s usually a smooth procedure involving the transfer of medical records and perhaps a conversation between physicians.

“If you want to receive a second opinion, you should feel comfortable doing so,” says Alfonse. “It’s important for you to feel confident in the care plan you decide on, and finding the best team and care plan for you is essential.”

To learn more about second opinions at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute or to schedule an appointment, visit LVHN.org/get-second-opinion.

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