Q. I'm worried my grandfather is not getting the best treatment for his cancer. When I ask him to ask more questions, he tells me he trusts his doctor and that's it. He lives in a rural area, and I would like for him to get a second opinion, but not sure how to?
Thank you for reaching out. We highly recommend all patients receive second opinions, especially when you believe that your grandfather is not getting the best treatment for his cancer. If he has insurance, I would reach out to the company and see what other hospitals/physicians are in his network. You may also want to contact an academic medical institution or a National Cancer Institute-designated facility. Secondly, it is important to remember that most doctors welcome a second opinion. Receiving a second opinion is a normal part of the cancer journey. The second opinion will help confirm the diagnosis/treatment and may suggest other alternative treatment options.
We realize that starting this conversation with your grandfather’s doctor may feel uncomfortable. However, keep in mind that many times doctors appreciate this as it is another opportunity for someone else to review their care decisions. Here are a couple of statements that may help:
“I would like the reassurance of a second opinion. This will help us feel confident in continuing with the current treatment plan. What is the next step?”
“I am worried for my grandfather as he is sharing minimal information with me. I would appreciate it if you could please provide me with more information regarding his current treatment plan.” This will be essential information to know when comparing notes between the original treatment team and second opinion. Additionally, you can request to have his current treatment plan sent to the second opinion physician.
Also, I would recommend speaking to his treatment team regarding a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. This will help analyze his cancer, comorbid medical conditions, functional, psychological, social, financial and cognitive status. These assessments are essential for older adult clients as they provide a wealth of information that can help guide treatment decisions.
For additional information on improving doctor-patient communication, view our resources.
Please know CancerCare is here for you. Our oncology social workers are available to assist you and address the many issues that come up as you and your family go through this. We can help you with questions to ask your medical team and also provide support. You can contact us through our Hopeline at 800-813-HOPE (4673).