Requesting a second opinion
Every year, many patients request a second opinion from the multidisciplinary team of the Institut Jules Bordet.
Not all doctors and hospitals necessarily have the expertise, experience and/or equipment needed to treat all types of cancer in the most effective way possible. At the Institut Jules Bordet, this is exclusively what we do! Seeking a second medical opinion is therefore often useful and reassuring for the patient. Especially in the case of a rare tumour and/or one requiring complex, innovative treatment.
Moreover, when all traditional therapeutic approaches have been tried, at the Institut Jules Bordet there is still sometimes a possibility of new drugs or innovative treatments available as part of our clinical studies. Our teams keep constantly up to date and work together with many other hospitals in Belgium and abroad. This means that they are able to direct the patient to other centres where a potentially useful treatment may be available.
The patient should make contact with the Institut Jules Bordet Reception team. Depending on the type of cancer, he or she will be directed to a doctor specialising in this cancer.
As far as possible, the patient should provide this doctor with their medical records so that all the information is available and examinations and visits do not have to be pointlessly repeated.
Specifically, the patient must ask their original doctor and/or original hospital for a full copy of their records. The latter have a legal obligation to provide the patient with this within 15 days or to send it (1) to the doctor the patient has chosen.
Patients should not feel awkward about this: seeking a second opinion is their right. They can also seek an opinion in another hospital after receiving treatment at the Institut Jules Bordet.
(1) Some information is available between hospitals in Belgium via ABRUMET, the Brussels medical information exchange network. In this case, the patient gives written, signed authorisation to the hospitals concerned. Information is available from the Institute’s Reception service.
Generally, a patient’s medical records contain:
- any hospital stay or consultation reports, records of Multidisciplinary Oncology Team discussions, etc.
- images and medical imaging protocols (PET scan, MRI, CT scan, x-rays, etc.)
- anatomic pathology analyses (biopsy, surgical piece, puncture, etc)
- blood analysis results (medical biology)
Yes. The doctor at the Institut Jules Bordet who has been asked for a second opinion always requests a consultation in order to question and examine the patient. The aim is to make an objective analysis of the patient’s situation, incorporating all the different aspects (general and psychological state of health, symptoms, comorbidities, support from friends and relatives, etc) that might influence the success of the treatments offered. An opinion is never given on the basis of patient records alone, but if the patient doesn’t live in Belgium, the medical team concerned will look at the records to see if there is any potential benefit in the patient visiting them.
Sometimes, the doctor at the Institut Jules Bordet asks the original hospital to send anatomopathological sections (samples of material removed) so that a second confirmation analysis or additional analyses can be carried out. He may also prescribe additional examinations.
Finally, the doctor will discuss the case with his colleagues (medical oncologist, surgeon, radiotherapist, etc) and, most often will submit the case for discussion by the Multidisciplinary Oncology Team. He will then draft his second opinion. This document is sent to the patient’s GP and/or any doctor of his choice.