Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

How do I get a second opinion?

How do I get a second opinion? image

Seeking a second opinion means seeing another specialist or general practitioner for their view on your current diagnosis and treatment plan.1

Reasons for asking for a second opinion include:

  • You want the diagnosis to be reviewed and confirmed1,2
  • You want confirmation that you are receiving the right treatment1,2
  • You do not feel comfortable talking to your current specialist1,2
  • You want the views of a specialist who has experience with the particular type of cancer that you have3

Here are some suggestions on how to prepare for getting a second opinion:

  • Ask your general practitioner or current specialist to refer you for a second opinion2
  • Make sure to go to a specialist in your type of cancer for your second opinion3
  • Talk with your current specialist to ensure all your relevant medical information will be sent on to the new specialist2,3
  • Prepare a list of questions; for example, what other treatments are available for you?
  • If the advice given is different from your current treatment, ask why2
  • For a list of more questions, click here

A second opinion may help confirm your treatment plan or may present you with other options, including possibly taking part in a clinical trial;3 however, seeking a second opinion might cause a delay in treatment.1

Do not worry about possibly upsetting or offending your specialist by asking for a second opinion; this is unlikely to be the case, as specialists often welcome advice from colleagues.1,2,4



  1. Cancer Research UK. Seeing a different doctor for a second opinion. Accessed March 2016.
  2. Macmillan. Getting a second opinion. Accessed March 2016.
  3. Cancer.Net. Seeking a second opinion. Accessed March 2016.
  4. American Cancer Society. The doctor-patient relationship. Accessed March 2016.