Working With Your Doctor or Health Care Provider

It is important that you be able to share your concerns with your doctor. You may want to talk with your doctor about a referral to a specialist or getting a second opinion, and you may have many questions for your health care team. It may help you to bring a list of questions such as the one in Section 10 to your visits, and to take notes on the answers.

Referral to a Specialist

Cancer is a complex disease, and no one doctor is able to provide all the care and services you may need. A specialist is a doctor or other health care provider who focuses on a certain part of your health care needs. You may be referred to many specialists during the course of your cancer care. Some of these may include a clinical nurse specialist, breast surgeon, medical oncologist, nutritionist, physical therapist, plastic surgeon, radiation oncologist, radiologist, social worker, surgical oncologist, or genetic counselor.

This website explains more about how to find a doctor or treatment center that specializes in cancer care:

Second Opinions

A second opinion is a visit to a doctor other than the one you have already seen to get another point of view on your health care needs. Second opinions are commonly requested. Most doctors welcome hearing another doctor's views and, with your permission, will share your records with others for the purpose of providing you care. Second opinions should not hold up your treatment or cost you extra as they are covered by most health insurance plans in New York State. Get a second opinion if you:

  • Want to confirm your diagnosis or treatment,
  • Want to explore all of your treatment options, or
  • Feel uncomfortable with your doctor.

If you are in a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), you may get a second opinion outside your health plan (including seeing a specialist at a cancer care center) at no extra charge if you are referred by a health plan doctor. Contact your HMO to discuss getting a second opinion. If you get a second opinion without a referral from your health plan doctor, you may have to pay all or part of the cost.

To Get A Second Opinion:

  • Ask your doctor to refer you to a breast cancer specialist who is outside of his or her treatment team.
  • Contact local or national medical associations.
  • Talk to members of breast cancer organizations or to people who have been through the same experience to get their opinions. Please see Section 11 of this booklet for a list of breast cancer organizations and their contact information.


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