Despite many similarities in training, doctors may vary in their opinions about how to diagnose or treat certain disorders. Such differences can occur among the best of doctors. Differences often occur because the evidence for the best approach is not clear. For example, opinions can differ about whether or when to measure prostate-specific antigen (PSA) Diagnosis Prostate cancer begins in the prostate gland, an organ found only in males. The risk of prostate cancer increases as men age. Symptoms, such as difficulty urinating, a need to urinate frequently... read more to check for prostate cancer in men who have no symptoms. Differences in recommendations may also be based on how a doctor interprets scientific information about a test or treatment and weighs its potential benefits and risks for an individual person, how willing a doctor is to use the latest tests and treatments, and how available these tests and treatments are in the community.
For these reasons, getting a second opinion from a different doctor can give a person additional insight and more information about what to do. If the second opinion is the same, it can reassure the person and reduce anxiety. If it differs, options can be weighed, and the result is a more informed choice about what to do. Also, a person can get a third opinion, particularly if the second opinion is different from the first.
(See also Introduction to Making the Most of Health Care Introduction to Making the Most of Health Care To make the most out of available health care options, people should participate actively in their health care process. Active and effective participation means many things, including the following... read more .)