‘Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Second Opinion,’ Cancer Expert Says

Communication, self-advocacy and having someone in your corner are all critical tools to bring to a cancer care visit, says an expert from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

While patients are often given advice such as “take notes,” and “ask questions,” one cancer expert stressed the importance of self-advocacy above all.

In an interview with CURE®, Dr. Keith Unger urged patients to consider seeking second opinions and bringing a family member or friend that can help advocate for them. He also provided several other important suggestions for patients to be equipped with for their appointments.

“I think communication is a critical part in cancer care and interfacing with your team — your physicians and non-physician members of your team,” said Unger, a radiation oncologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Transcription:

I think communication is a critical part in cancer care and interfacing with your team — your physicians and non-physician members of your team — and I think should you have questions, don't be afraid to ask. Should you want a second opinion, say it; don't be afraid to ask, and if that's something you're interested in, you should certainly look into that.

And, again, it’s communication and not being afraid to talk about concerns or questions. And as I said before, having an advocate there, a family member or friend, can facilitate some of these conversations, and ensuring that you have the appropriate questions in mind to help advocate for your own care. Those are all, I think, pretty critical considerations when making really big important decisions like this.

Oftentimes, I found it helpful with my patients to have them meet with other patients who've been in similar situations so that they know the questions to ask, so that they can, you know, have some better reference. And so often you can connect electronically with support groups as well, which makes it a little bit easier.

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