Did you walk away from your oncology appointment wondering about recommended treatments? Are you hoping to enroll in a different kind of clinical trial than what was available at your oncology facility? Do you have a rare kind of cancer or a complicated medical situation? If so, scheduling a second opinion consultation may be helpful.

Seeking a second opinion may help to increase your comfort level about treatments already recommended. It is not uncommon that in some cases, your oncologist may actively recommend a second opinion consultation about a particularly complex case.

Here are a few situations in which an outside consultation may be helpful:

Rare cancers. Some cancers are rare enough that many oncologists may not encounter them very frequently. A tertiary level (usually university hospital) oncologist at a high volume center for such a particular rare cancer, may draw patients from all over the country (or all over a continent). In that manner he/she acquires a lot of experience in treating that particular cancer. Further, there may be unique clinical trials available by virtue of being in a tertiary level center focusing on a particular rare cancer.

Complex medical situations. Some individuals may have several underlying medical conditions requiring that standard treatment protocols be slightly modified. Other individuals may require that several specialists work together in making sure they tolerate cancer treatments well. It may be easier to be treated at a center with all such specialists on staff.

Unique services or treatments. Some services are available at limited sites.  An example is  bone marrow (or stem cell) transplant which may apply for some cancers like multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia. Some surgical procedures require surgeons with advanced training and it may be worth seeking care at another facility in order to have access to such specialized surgeons.

Clinical trials. It is always recommended to consider clinical trials whenever available, but particularly in cancers of cancers that are hard to treat, and when standard treatments are no longer working. Different centers may have a different portfolio of clinical trials and so that may be another reason to seek an opinion at a different center.