A cancer diagnosis always has a big impact. You may need to undergo intensive treatment. Whatever the case, it is vital to make sure that you are fully informed about the treatment options and any alternatives that may be available. Many treatments are laid down in the form of national or international agreements, which have been translated into protocols for doctors to follow.
Dutch hospitals employ cancer specialists who can give you detailed information on the treatment of the most common types of cancer.
However, you may wish to ask a second, independent physician to assess your treatment plan first. Equally, you may have a rare type of cancer, or you may have already undergone a treatment without this having had the desired effect.
A second opinion is an independent assessment by a medical expert other than your own physician. This expert gives his or her view on your case, but does not usually take over treatment.
Asking for a second opinion does not mean that you have no confidence in your doctor. Rather, it’s an opportunity to obtain more information by asking someone else to take a fresh look at the facts. It may help you to make a well-informed decision about your treatment. Your physician may even suggest that you ask another doctor for his or her opinion.
The academic work performed by our doctors enables them to keep track of the latest developments in diagnostics and treatment. They attend multidisciplinary meetings and consult other specialists, making them ideally placed to offer you sound advice.
Although you do not have a legal right to a second opinion, Dutch GPs and specialists have joined forces with the Dutch Patients’ Federation to draw up a model agreement governing the relationship between physicians and their patients. The model agreement includes a clause stating that patients are entitled to ask for a second opinion.
Although you do not formally need to obtain your physician’s permission to seek a second opinion, it’s worth letting let him or her know that you would like to ask for a second opinion. This is particularly important as he or she can refer you to other university medical centres. Another major consideration when seeking a second opinion is that your medical details should be available. Your GP can help you with this.
What sort of information do you need?
To make an appointment or to obtain further information, you should contact your outpatient clinic. Please note that, If the second opinion differs from your physician’s opinion, it is up to you to decide on the type of treatment you wish to undergo.
In order to seek a second opinion, you will need to obtain the following at the very least:
- a description of your medical history and your diagnosis;
- relevant radiology reports and laboratory results;
- a pathology report (tissue diagnosis);
- a letter from your GP or medical specialist with a clear request.
You should inform your health insurance company before seeking a second opinion. Your health insurance company can tell you how best to proceed. If your health insurance policy does not cover the cost of a second opinion, you will have to pay the bill yourself.
Your patient data are passed on to a medical specialist for him or her to assess. You will then be called in for an appointment at the outpatient clinic. After this first appointment, the oncology team will meet to discuss your medical history, which will also be discussed, if necessary, by a multidisciplinary team. A second appointment follows about a week later, during which we will discuss with you the recommendations made by these teams. We then usually refer you back to your own physician.
It is important that you attend your appointment with the medical specialist. If you are sick or otherwise unable to attend, please cancel your appointment at least 24 hours in advance or we will have to invoice you.