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Should You Get a Second Opinion for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Should You Get a Second Opinion for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?

Many patients with NHL choose to seek a second opinion. Here are a few questions to ask to help make the decision.

It’s understandable for patients diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) to consider working with a new oncologist—especially when there is a recurrence of NHL, or a patient has NHL that has become resistant to treatment. Here’s an overview of how to weigh the options, how to find the new medical team and how to make the transition as efficient as possible.

Decide if a new MD is right for you
It’s important to understand that receiving a second opinion is a common practice in cancer care, even if you have established a rapport with your current physician. In fact, some health insurance plans require a second opinion before receiving treatment. It is also recommended to seek a second opinion if you have a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, since each doctor’s assessment and knowledge of this disease will differ.

Find the right specialists
Since NHL is a blood disease, it is treated by specialists, including oncologists, hematologists, radiologists, and in some cases, surgeons. Your current physician will most likely be able to recommend another oncologist. If not, consider asking for recommendations from trusted friends and relatives, as well as by researching for doctors who have treated patients with NHL through local hospitals, medical clinics and cancer centers. Also, reputable organizations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties, American Medical Association and the American Society of Clinical Oncology can offer names of oncologists, as well.

Ask potential doctors the right questions
During a consultation appointment, you may want to ask this physician a few specific questions, such as:

  • How extensive is their knowledge about this type of NHL?
  • How many patients with NHL has he/she treated over the years?
  • How did he/she arrive at their assessment?
  • If their treatment plan differs from your current oncologist, would he/she be willing to speak with your oncologist about your situation?
  • Is he/she aware of any clinical trials?

Have records handy
It is encouraged for all patients to retain copies of their medical records from the onset of diagnosis. Along with providing potential new healthcare providers with your medical history, it is also imperative to have copies of all tests results and a pathology report, as well as the types of therapies that were received to treat NHL. If you do not have copies of any or all of these records, contact your current healthcare provider’s office. According to federal law, you have the right to inspect, review and receive a copy of your medical records. Also, your physician may send these records to another healthcare provider with your permission.

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