Second opinion at Erasmus MC Cancer Institute
Being diagnosed with cancer can have a great impact on your life. You may need to undergo intensive treatment. Whatever the case, it is important that you are thoroughly informed about the treatment options and the alternatives that may be available to you. Many of the treatment methods have been agreed upon nationally or even internationally, and these agreements have been outlined in protocols that physicians follow.
Dutch hospitals have cancer specialists who can provide you with extensive information on the treatment of common types of cancer.
However, you may wish to have a second independent physician assess your treatment plan first. It is also possible that you have a rare type of cancer, or that previous treatment did not have the desired effect.
A second opinion means that you can consult with an independent medical expert other than your own attending physician. This expert gives his or her view on your case, but does not usually take over treatment.
A second opinion is not a motion of no confidence in your practitioner, but it does offer you the opportunity to obtain more information by having someone else take a fresh look at the facts. It can help you to make a well-considered decision about your treatment. Your attending physician may also suggest you ask the opinion of another physician.
The academic work of our physicians means that they are always on top of the most recent developments in diagnostics and treatment. Our physicians have multidisciplinary meetings and consult other specialists, making them well placed to offer informed advice.
Although you do not have a legal right to a second opinion, Dutch GPs and specialists have drawn up a model Physician-Patient agreement together with the Dutch Patients Federation (Nederlandse Patiënten Consumenten Federatie - NPCF), which includes the right to a second opinion.
Although you do not officially need the permission of your attending physician to seek a second opinion, we recommend that you let your attending physician know that you wish to seek a second opinion particularly as he/she can help refer you to other university medical centers. It is also important that your medical information is available when you wish to obtain a second opinion. Your GP can also help in assessing this information.
In order to seek a second opinion you will need at least the following information:
- Description of important medical history and diagnosis.
- Relevant radiology reports and laboratory results.
- Pathology report (tissue diagnosis).
- GP or medical specialist’s referral letter with a clearly formulated request.
We recommend you inform your health insurer before seeking a second opinion. Your health insurer can tell you how best to proceed. If your insurer does not cover the costs of a second opinion, you will have to pay the bill yourself.
The information will be submitted to a specialist for assessment, after which you will be called for an appointment at the outpatient clinic. After your first visit, your medical history will be discussed with the oncological team and, if necessary, also by a multidisciplinary team. We will discuss the advice given by these teams with you during a second visit approximately one week later. We will then usually refer you back to your own attending specialist.
It is important that you, the patient, are present at the appointment with the specialist. If you are sick or otherwise unable to come to your appointment, please cancel your appointment at least 24 hours in advance, or we will unfortunately have to bill you for the appointment.