Is it Okay to Change Oncologists?
The short answer; ABSOLUTELY!
A cancer diagnosis hits patients and loved ones like a brick. Most often you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the diagnosis, especially initially. Cancer management is time-sensitive and you may feel rushed to make life-altering decisions while trying to cope with the emotional aspects and everything else. You likely at some point have felt a degree of depression, anxiety, and a feeling of uncertainty. Hopefully, you or your loved one have started-off the path of managing the diagnosis with an oncologist and team that you feel comfortable with and have the utmost trust for.
In my opinion, a good oncologist (or any healthcare provider), should encourage, or at the very least be okay with a patient getting a second opinion.
However, sometimes further into the process, things change and patients and loved ones often feel “stuck.” Just like in any relationship, people’s demeanor, personality, and trust level can change. As a patient, you should feel comfortable getting a second opinion at ANY point of your care. I have seen several patients not seek a second opinion, because they felt inadequately competent in the field and didn’t want to “overstep”. Remember this is YOUR life. You should always feel welcome to ask questions and feel comfortable with the plan and care that you receive. Each person has a different experience. You may have received a great referral from a friend about an oncologist, but your experience was very different. And that is ok!
In my opinion, a good oncologist (or any healthcare provider), should encourage, or at the very least be okay with a patient getting a second opinion. Of course, medicine is a business, but the first priority should ALWAYS be the quality of life, health, and success of the patient; not an oncologist’s reputation or monetary gain.
As a patient, you should feel comfortable getting a second opinion at ANY point of your care… You should always feel welcome to ask questions and feel comfortable with the plan and care that you receive.
I once had a very reputable oncologist tell a client and myself that he “ is only willing to be the captain of the ship and nothing else”. This was in regard to requesting if he would be willing to assist in managing care locally, for my client who was currently part of an out-of-state clinical trail. Definitely NOT the answer my client was looking for.
As a patient, it is very important that you feel confident in your choice of oncologist. And if that changes, a second opinion is almost always an available option. You may have a second opinion that is exactly the same as your current treatment. In that case, it may help confirm that your current management plan is appropriate for you. Or it may be the same treatment, but you feel more comfortable asking questions to a new provider, etc.
Don’t be afraid to obtain that second opinion. A private patient advocate is here to help you navigate through it all.