Getting a Second Opinion

Top 5 signs you should seek a second opinion about your lung cancer treatment.

Finding the right medical care is important. You should feel comfortable with your doctor and confident you are receiving the best care possible. You have the right to seek a second (or third or fourth) opinion about your lung cancer treatment plan. Below are some signs that a second opinion could be helpful.

1. You aren't being cared for by specialists.

It is important for a physician or group of physicians who specialize in lung cancer to review your case and treatment plan. Professionals who specialize in lung cancer like thoracic oncologists are the most up-to-date on lung cancer treatment guidelines and emerging treatments. There may not be a specialist at the hospital where you are being treated. In that case, you might want to seek a second opinion at a large hospital, like one affiliated with a university or large medical institution. Or your doctor may be able to share your case with specialists at another hospital for input.

2. Your doctor makes you feel to blame for your cancer.

No one deserves lung cancer. No matter what your health history is, you are not to blame for your cancer. If you feel like your doctor lacks compassion, it is time to seek a second opinion.

3. Your doctor gets upset when you ask questions.

The best relationship between a doctor and a patient is a collaborative one. It is important to feel comfortable asking questions and feel satisfied with the answers. Read up on as much information as you can and find a doctor who wants to have conversations with you about your care.

4. Your doctor tells you there is nothing to be done and to "get your affairs in order."

The subject of prognosis is a tough one. Your treatment decisions should be made after careful consideration and conversations with your care team. While the lung cancer survival rate isn't where we would like it to be, progress is being made every day and treatment options are expanding. If you feel your doctor is dismissing your case and not giving you hope, it may be time to seek a second opinion.

5. Your doctor doesn't know what biomarker testing is or refuses to talk to you about it.

Biomarker testing looks for specific markers on your tumor, sometimes called molecular or genomic markers. The results from this testing help inform your possible treatment options such as whether to take a targeted therapy or participate in a clinical trial. This type of testing is especially important for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, who are most likely to have these markers. If your doctor is unable or unwilling to discuss biomarker testing, it may be time to seek a second opinion.

  • Questions for Your Lung Cancer Care Team


Reviewed and approved by the American Lung Association Scientific and Medical Editorial Review Panel.

Page last updated: November 17, 2022

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