Second opinion / transfer

Cancer treatment can have a profound effect on your life, so it is important that you are comfortable with your treatment plan. If you would prefer to consult another physician about your diagnosis, or if you want any further advice during your treatment, you could consider getting a second opinion. A second opinion is not a sign of distrust towards your current treatment team, but a tool to help you feel more at ease with your treatment plan. Due to the coronavirus, we offer video consultations when possible.

Would you like to request a second opinion?

These are the steps you should take to request your second opinion:

Further explanation

The best way to request a second opinion is through your practicing physician, as he or she has access to all necessary documents. You can ask your physician to send us the referral, your medical file, and a CD-ROM containing all visual materials. Once we have received the information, our Outpatient Back Office will contact you within 5 weekdays with further information about the next steps and your starting date. The exact start date of your second opinion consultation depends on your specialist and your specific medical situation.

If you come to the Netherlands Cancer Institute for a second opinion, you are not required to continue your treatment with us afterward. If you would like to receive your treatment at the NKI, we recommend that you include a request for a transfer to our hospital with your request for a second opinion. The steps for this request are the same as the ones for a second opinion. The only difference is that your reference will specify that this concerns a transfer.

Do you have any questions about second opinions?

Please ask the patient information center your question by using the form below. You will receive an answer within one weekday.

More information

Please find the frequently asked questions about second opinions below. If your question has not been answered, please use the form at the bottom of the page to submit your question, or contact us at +31 (0)20 512 9111.

Frequently asked questions about a second opinion

Find the frequently asked questions and answers about a second opinion below. If these do not answer your question, please use the contact information at the bottom of this page.

When should I request a second opinion?

The best time to request a second opinion is when you want to hear another physician’s opinion on your diagnosis or (an aspect of) your treatment. A second opinion can be a good way to compare multiple treatment options. We can also check if you meet the requirements for a trial. Everybody in the Netherlands can request a second opinion.

We recommend waiting until all tests have been completed, you have received your results, and you have discussed your treatment options. At this stage, your hospital can send us enough information to review for our second opinion, and we can discuss our thoughts on the proposed treatment plan with you.

What is the process like?

You can request your practicing physician, if possible, to start the process for you. Your general practitioner might not have all the information we need to assess your medical situation. We will have to put in a request for this information, which will make the process take longer.

Your physician can submit all information digitally through our referral page for clinicians. The information can also be faxed. All further information can be found on the referral page. Visual materials are usually submitted by mail as a CD-ROM. Once complete, our specialists will review all your information. This will take about 5 weekdays. Afterwards, we will inform you whether you will be invited for a second opinion consultation. You can find more information in our flyer.

What are the wait times?

We can determine your exact wait time once our specialist has reviewed your medical history. He or she will determine whether additional testing is required and which type of specialist you will need to see. This will take about five weekdays. Our Outpatient Back Office will contact you about your exact starting date and will let you know if any additional tests will be required.

You can find our average waiting times for the second opinion by types of cancer on our website. Please keep in mind that this is concerns averages and that your actual waiting time can vary per person, depending on the individual medical situation.

What costs should I expect?

Most health insurance providers cover one second opinion a year. We still recommend asking your health insurance provider for information before starting the process. If your second opinion is covered by your insurance, all financial arrangements are done through your insurance provider.

If your health insurance does not cover the costs, we will ask you to pay an advance of €500.
​The actual costs will be settled afterward. These depend on the care provided, such as additional
testing. Our care administration department will contact you about the payment process.

Can I request a second opinion from abroad?

You can. We will need to receive your medical history from your practicing physician in your country. These documents need to be submitted in Dutch or English. You can find medical translation agencies that can help you in this process. You can find more information in the flyers linked below.

Will I receive a confirmation after submitting my request?

Once all your information has been submitted, we will forward it to our specialist(s). You will not receive a confirmation. After the specialist(s) have assessed your medical history, we will contact you. This will take 5 weekdays on average. If you would like to know whether we have received all information from your referring hospital, or if you have any other questions about the status of your request, please contact our Back Office Department at +31 (0)20 512 9111 during regular office hours. 

Will all tests be repeated?

Your specialists will review all your previous test results. This is why we need your hospital to send your medical history to the Netherlands Cancer Institute. Your specialist might invite you to repeat one of the tests, for which you will receive an invitation. This is why we can only schedule your appointment once we have evaluated your medical history and know if additional tests are required.

Will I always be invited to come in for a consultation, and how does that work?

Most second opinion requests will result in a (video) consultation. This is not always the case: we might agree with the proposed treatment plan and don't have any additional information to give you, or we might feel that your treatment is too urgent for our current capacity. There could also be another reason why we cannot see you for a second opinion consultation. If this is the case, we will contact you with further information.

Are you invited to come in for a consultation? You will discuss your medical history with our specialist. Sometimes additional physical examinations are necessary, and sometimes we want to discuss your case with your practicing physician(s). There will also be room for questions. It might be a good idea to prepare your questions by writing them down in advance, so you won't forget them during the consultation. Your specialist will usually offer you further advice at the end of the consultation. A lot can be discussed during your appointment, so it can be helpful to bring someone with you or have someone listen along to the video consultation. If it turns out that further testing is necessary during the consultation, or if we need more information, we will schedule a second consultation.

Will I receive my results straight away?

You will usually receive your results during your consultation with your physician at the Netherlands Cancer Institute. In some cases, this is not immediately possible because we want to discuss your case during one of our multidisciplinary meetings, where specialists from various fields come together to review your situation. It will take a bit longer for your results to be ready if this is the case.

What should I do if the recommendations given during the second opinion is different, or if I want to continue my treatment at your hospital?

The recommendations you receive during the second opinion consultation may be different from the previous advice you have received. We do not automatically take over your treatment. If you do consider a transfer during your consultation, you can discuss your options with your specialist. We also recommend discussing your potential transfer with your current treatment specialist. He or she might be open to the treatment we suggested, so you can continue going to your current hospital. You can choose where you would like to receive your treatment. Your treatment will be continued at your current hospital until the transfer is complete.

When considering your treatment options, the following questions might be helpful: 

  • How much is known about the success rates?
  • Will the latest technologies be used?
  • How much experience does the treatment team have?
  • Will there be significant discomfort to my quality of life (survivorship)?
  • Will you and your loved ones have to travel far for the treatment?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • Do you trust your practicing physician?
  • Will there be proper guidance?
  • Will your treatment be covered by insurance?
  • What are the waiting times?

More information

If your question has not been answered, or if you would like more information, please use the contact form below to contact the Patient Information Center. We will answer your question within one weekday. Or call us at: (+31) 20 512 9111 between Monday and Friday from 9:00 to 17:00.
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