A melanoma diagnosis can be overwhelming. You will be in shock initially but once the news sinks in, it is important that you learn as much about your diagnosis as you can so that you can participate with your treating clinician in the decisions made as to what happens next.
Knowing the right questions to ask your doctor, deciding whether or not to get a second opinion, and seeking out information about your diagnosis, treatment options and treatment centres are ways of helping you take back some control so that your decisions can be considered and informed.
What to Ask Your Doctor About Your Melanoma Diagnosis
You may find it helpful to print out these questions and bring them with you to your next doctor’s visit. Always try to have a family member or friend accompany you so that they can be an extra pair of ears in the room, possibly taking notes for you. Ask your doctor if you can record his answers for future reference. (Smart phones have this capacity and there are Apps available)
Seeking a Second Opinion
It is your right as a patient to get a second opinion if you have reservations about your diagnosis or treatment plan or if information has been poorly communicated to you.Getting a second opinion may help you better understand your diagnosis and or treatment plan. Even though asking a doctor for a second opinion may be intimidating, most doctors treat such requests as routine.
Your specialist or local doctor can refer you to another specialist and you can ask for your results to be sent to the second opinion doctor.
You can ask for a second opinion even if you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor.
One of the best places to obtain a second opinion is at a Melanoma Unit. At a Melanoma Unit you have access to a multidisciplinary team which includes many cancer experts including dermatologists, surgeons, oncologists, and radiation therapists. Second opinions from a multidisciplinary team at a melanoma unit can provide a very comprehensive review of a diagnosis and treatment plan.