What if parents want a second opinion?

Cancer in a child usually needs to be dealt with quickly. Once a diagnosis is made and all the needed tests are done, treatment is started right away. Sometimes treatment planning is delayed because the doctors have trouble making an exact diagnosis. In this case, pediatric hematologists and oncologists often consult with their colleagues around the country to help make the diagnosis as quickly as possible.

If parents have doubts about their child’s diagnosis, or questions about the treatment plan, they have the right to get a second opinion. Most doctors understand and are comfortable with such requests, and will often help parents find specialists at another center. They can send tissue from biopsies or other test results that will help the doctors you are consulting. Parents should check with their insurer or managed care provider to see if their health plan will cover a second opinion.

Sometimes, parents have so much trouble believing their child’s diagnosis that they aren’t satisfied even with a second opinion. It’s important for them to remember that long delays may harm their child’s chances to respond well to treatment. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment should be started as soon as possible.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: September 22, 2014 Last Revised: October 9, 2014

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