Many people diagnosed with cancer feel a sense of urgency about jumping right in and starting treatment immediately. However, because WM is an indolent (slow growing) disease, there’s time to do some research to make sure your diagnosis is correct and your treatment plan makes sense — and this may include getting a second opinion. This is especially important since WM is so rare that your doctor may never have seen and/or treated a patient with the disease.
Getting a second opinion means asking another hematologist/oncologist or a team of specialists to review all of your medical reports and test results, give an opinion about your diagnosis, and suggest treatment options. A second opinion may confirm your original doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan, provide more details about the cancer, raise additional treatment options you hadn’t considered, or recommend a different course of action. Even if you’ve already had treatment, it’s not too late to get a second opinion. A second doctor can weigh in on your diagnosis and treatment plan to date, offering additional thoughts or recommendations.
The very idea of getting a second opinion can seem overwhelming at first, especially when you’ve just been diagnosed with WM. It can take time and legwork to find a second doctor, arrange for the second opinion, and deal with any insurance issues that may arise. It also can be intimidating to tell your current hematologist/oncologist you want a second opinion. But doctors are used to hearing this request. In fact, your hematologist/oncologist may be able to help you find another specialist who can provide a second opinion. Some insurance companies even require a second opinion before treatment begins.
If you decide to seek a second opinion, you can ask your doctor for a referral. Many major cancer centers will have hematologist/oncologists with WM expertise. And, while the IWMF does not refer patients to physicians, we can suggest several ways to help you locate a specialist.
- You can contact the IWMF Support Group leader closest to where you reside, and he/she may be able to give you the names of hematologist/oncologists recommended by members of the Support Group.
- Yet another way of finding a physician in a specific location is to send a request for information to all participants of our Internet-based forum IWMF Connect.
- And finally, we have developed a directory of well-known cancer centers and physicians with expertise in diagnosing and treating WM. These physicians are also willing to consult with your local hematologist/oncologist.
Once you have decided whom you will see for your second opinion, ask that your medical records, original X-rays, and all test results be shared with the new physician. This way you may not have to repeat them. You’ll probably need to ask the office staff to help you with this. You may need to sign a release of information form to have the records sent, or you may want to take copies of your medical records to the new doctor yourself.
In this process, you may discover additional treatment options for your WM or confirm your current treatment approach. Either way, a second opinion helps you feel confident that you are getting the right care.