National Breast Cancer Coalition

Myth #18: Second opinions are only for treatment options. Once I know I have breast cancer, I can get a second opinion on how to treat the disease

FALSE. While you definitely should get a second opinion on how to treat your breast cancer, that is not enough. Know that all breast cancers are not the same and cannot be treated as such. Breast cancer is a complex disease with many variants needing different treatments.

Ask a second pathologist to determine your specific diagnosis. A pathology second opinion can help you be more certain that your diagnosis and disease characteristics are correct. This is very important because doctors base their treatment advice on your pathology report.

Treatment options vary depending on the specific diagnosis you have. And that diagnosis is explained on the pathology report. If a woman is diagnosed with a Stage I cancer, she most likely will not need the same course of treatment as someone diagnosed with Stage IV. Even if the stage is the same, treatments will vary for breast cancer sub-types, such as estrogen-receptor positive or HER-2 positive breast cancer. Since treatment choices depend on having a complete and accurate diagnosis, it is important for patients to know they can get a second opinion on the diagnosis itself.

To learn more, explore Breast Cancer Information for scientific and health care information in plain language.