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 How do I proceed when my doctors don't agree?

My gynecologist and my gynecologic oncologist have made differing recommendations as to how to proceed in testing and treatment of my condition. One says I need immediate treatment, and the other says a short wait won't make a big difference. I'm confused! How do I proceed when my doctors don't agree?

 Judy Knapp, PhD, MSW (Febuary 6, 2006):

Generally speaking, the specialist (gynecologist) is trained in routine care and management of benign conditions of the female reproductive organs. The subspecialist (gynecologic oncologist) has received additional intensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of gynecologic cancers. So if the diagnosis is cancer, the gynecologic oncologist is the expert.
It is not unusual to have more than one doctor involved in your cancer care. If there is a disagreement between your doctors on the best treatment approach, ask them to speak directly to one another in an effort to reach consensus. This will often resolve the question about how to proceed. However, if it does not, ask if it is possible for you to meet with both physicians together, in an effort to help you better understand the basis of each recommendation. In this way, you will get the information that you need to make a decision. If such a meeting is not possible, ask for copies of your records from each doctor, then get another medical opinion.

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The "Answers from the Pros" are given in general terms, and are not intended to address individual medical needs. "Answers from the Pros" does not give medical advice, but answers medical questions that always should be verified with your doctor and care team. Do not rely solely on the answers you receive from the "Answers from the Pros" section. Do not make any changes in your treatment or medications, without consulting your doctor. If you have an emergency, call 911 or your physician.