Diagnosed with cancer? Here's how to find a doctor in your neighborhood

My mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and lives in the Los Angeles area. I was wondering if your publication had ever created or published any lists of top doctors in the area? She's looking for a doctor but isn't sure where to start.

-- M.S.

It's important that your mother choose a doctor who will accept her form of health insurance as well as be someone who is competent and has a bedside manner she feels comfortable with. That's a tall order -- especially when someone is sick and in a hurry to find a doctor. Fortunately, the National Cancer Institute has a wonderful website with information on how to find a doctor to treat cancer. Go to www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/doctor-facility.

This website will explain the different credentials of doctors who treat cancer. It also has a list of NCI-designated cancer centers. Those centers can provide a list of their own specialists. The site also has a list of questions you can ask when interviewing a doctor and selecting a hospital. The American Society of Clinical Oncology also has a member database that can be searched by name, institution, location and type of board certification. That site is www.cancer.net/portal/site/patient .

Don't forget to try the old-fashioned method: ask around. Your mother should ask her primary-care doctor if he or she has a recommendation or a list of a few doctors for her to meet and interview. Once she has chosen a doctor or has narrowed down the list to a few names, she should check the doctor's background and any history of disciplinary measures at the Medical Board of California. Go to www.medbd.ca.gov and click on "Check Your Doctor" on the left side of the page.

-- Shari Roan

For other Ask Us columns, go to www.latimes.com/askhealth.

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