Should I get a second opinion?

All patients in the UK have a right to a second opinion and this may form a valuable part of your decision-making process. Some people feel uncomfortable asking their doctor for a second opinion, but specialists are used to patients doing this. Your doctor can refer you to another specialist and send them results of any tests you have had. You can get a second opinion even if you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor.

Within the specialist pancreatic units in the UK,  first line management is usually evidence based and will be relatively consistent from unit to unit. There may be slightly different opinions regarding suitability for certain treatments as every patient is an individual, and there are inevitably areas where there is debate regarding the best treatment option.

The decisions regarding treatment in specialist centres are no longer made by individual consultants but are a “committee” decision based on all the evidence from investigations presented to the multi-disciplinary team discussion (a weekly meeting with pancreatic specialists in surgery, radiology, pathology, oncology, radiology etc).

Because the specialists from a region are likely to have been involved with the initial decision, obtaining a second opinion will normally require travel to a different Regional specialist centre.

Where treatment opinions can differ is in the field of research of potentially new (and unproven) treatments as part of trials. Most regional centres will be involved in research trials but the specific trial may differ from one centre to another. It should be emphasised that a trial is being conducted because the potential benefit of the treatment is unknown (it may be better, the same, or sometimes not as good as current evidence based standard treatment).

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