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Board-certified Dermatologist From Mid TN Skin Surgery & Dermatology In Middle Tennessee Examining A Patient’s Skin Cancer On Her Hand.

Ask the Experts: When Should I Get a Second Opinion on Skin Cancer?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with skin cancer, you might be wondering if it’s worth getting a second opinion. At Mid TN Skin Surgery and Dermatology, we understand how important it is to better understand the type of skin cancer you have and your treatment options. 

This is why we sat down with Scott Stout, a board-certified Physician Assistant at Mid TN Skin in Cookeville, Tennessee, to learn more about when he recommends getting a second opinion on skin cancer, why some individuals seek out a second opinion from another specialist, how to talk to your doctor about getting a second opinion, and other factors to consider. 

When Should an Individual Get a Second Opinion on Skin Cancer?

Stout told us, “I think there are a few instances when a second opinion can or should be pursued. A second opinion can be pursued if the initial opinion or treatment is uncertain. It may be an uncommon diagnosis or the current provider may not be very familiar with the diagnosis. Also, a second opinion may be sought after if you don’t have confidence in the current provider.” 

Is Getting a Second Opinion Important? 

Sometimes, you may think a second opinion is essential but Stout shared with us, “Quite honestly, most skin cancer cases are pretty straight forward and a second opinion is not necessary.” 

However, Stout mentioned that it is important that a lesion that has been biopsied is evaluated by a dermatopathologist. 

“These pathologists are trained and focus on skin histology. With their microscopic evaluation of a lesion, it is like having a second opinion. Still, if you are feeling any uncertainty, or perhaps you’ve received a more serious diagnosis requiring major treatment, a second opinion can be very valuable,” he said. 

Who Do You Recommend Patients to When They Ask to Get a Second Opinion? 

If you’re still set on getting a second opinion on skin cancer, Stout shared with us his recommendations. 

“I will typically refer to someone with more experience in that particular area. Most often it is at a larger medical center such as a provider at UT or Vanderbilt. Larger centers often have the advantage of having seen more difficult cases.”

How Should a Patient Talk to Their Current Doctor About Getting a Second Opinion From Another Doctor?

We know it can be uncomfortable talking to your doctor about seeing another physician, but Stout told us patients shouldn’t shy away from asking. 

“It may seem awkward, but most providers are open to the idea. I would try to avoid any defensive posture and just express that though you value their opinion, you would like to pursue a second opinion,” he said. 

How Should a Patient Prepare for Getting a Second Opinion on Skin Cancer? 

As an expert dermatologist, Stout shared with us that the best way to prepare for getting a second opinion is to have any lab work, office notes, or biopsy reports available for your second physician. 

Stout said, “I recommend having a copy of your medical records on you in case they are not transferred at the time of your visit. Furthermore, try to have some familiarity with your current diagnosis and treatment plan so that you can effectively communicate with the second provider.”

What if Time is of the Essence and Treatment Should Happen Soon — Is Getting a Second Opinion Still Important? 

In some cases, treatment must be implemented as soon as possible for optimal results, which can be impacted if you choose to seek out a second opinion on skin cancer. Stout helped clarify what you should do in this situation. 

“If your current provider is confident of the diagnosis and treatment plan, especially regarding a serious skin cancer, I would not delay treatment. Seeing a medical specialist can often take many weeks which may be undesirable,” he mentioned to us. 

Dermatology Solutions in Cookeville, Tennessee 

The trusted physicians at Mid TN Skin Surgery and Dermatology can assist you with all of your general, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology needs. If you would like to learn more about our comprehensive dermatology solutions in Cookeville, TN, schedule an appointment, visit our website, or give us a call at (931) 650-4384.