Pediatric Cancer Second Opinions

Receiving a cancer diagnosis for your child can be devastating, but armed with information, you can take the first important steps toward finding the right care for your child.

The Cancer Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is available to consult with you or your physician on pediatric cancer second opinion requests. We work with families and pediatric specialists from all over the country and around the world to confirm diagnoses or to provide second opinions.

Why get a second opinion

When your child has been diagnosed with cancer, a second opinion will give you the information you need to make an informed and educated decision about your child’s treatment. A second opinion can also provide reassurance as you make decisions about your child's care. Families seek second opinions for a variety of reasons, including:

Feeling uncomfortable with or needing confirmation of a diagnosis

When your child is diagnosed with cancer, you experience many feelings, including the desire to begin treatment as soon as possible. After allowing yourself a few days to come to terms with your child's diagnosis, you may find that getting a second opinion can clear up any doubts you may have or provide you with the confirmation you need to proceed with treatment.

Seeking the opinion of a specialist with experience treating your child's type of cancer

While your child’s pediatric oncologist may have treated the type of cancer your child has, he or she may wish to obtain a second opinion from a pediatric oncologist who is highly experienced in working directly with a particular type of cancer. CHOP specialists may be aware of new treatment methods or clinical trials and can share that information during a second opinion.

When to get a second opinion

The best time to get a second opinion is before your child starts cancer treatment or during the first few weeks of therapy. Another common time to get a second opinion is when a change in therapy, such as adding radiation therapy, surgery or new chemotherapy has been recommended.

Second opinion appointment

Questions to ask

These questions can guide your discussion with the oncologist when getting a second opinion.

  • What type of cancer does my child have?
  • How many children like this have you or your program treated?
  • What are the treatment choices?
  • What are the other specialty services that will be involved in my child’s care?
  • Which treatment do you recommend and why?
  • How will this cancer and its treatment affect the length and quality of my child's life?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • What clinical trials is my child a candidate for, and what’s your experience with those trials?
  • What support programs do you offer cancer patients and their families?
  • What are the chances that this treatment will be successful?
  • How will we know if it is successful?
  • What are the risks of this treatment (short-term and long-term)?
  • What other treatment approaches are available for my child?
  • Are professionals such as pediatric psychologists, social workers and nutritionists on your staff?
  • What resources do you offer to help patients and families cope with the emotional, financial and physical issues they may experience?

Information to bring

To help us perform a thorough pediatric cancer second opinion evaluation, we would like to have a full summary of your child's evaluation, treatments and studies up to this point. It’s important for you to provide as much of the following information as possible to allow our teams to make the best second opinion recommendation.

Patient summary

  • Age
  • Address
  • Parent or guardian contact information
  • Insurance information

Complete clinical summary

  • Physician's name and contact information
  • Diagnosis, or working diagnosis, and list of presenting symptoms
  • Diagnostic materials (tumor biopsy slides/tissue blocks)
  • Diagnostic scans (X-ray, CT, MRI, bone scan, PET scan, MIBG scan) including actual scans or biopsy slides when available
  • All clinical reports available, including:
    • Laboratory
    • Pathology
    • Surgery
    • Radiation therapeutic summary
  • Copy of any existing treatment plan

Reviewed on January 31, 2014