Dr. Raja Flores, Pleural Mesothelioma Thoracic Surgeon

Summary

Dr. Raja Flores is continually recognized as one of America’s top thoracic and cardiac surgeons. With more than 2 decades of medical experience, Dr. Flores is considered a leading expert in the study and treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma because he established a type of video-assisted surgery as the gold standard in the surgical treatment of lung cancer.

About Dr. Flores

Dr. Raja Flores is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon and Department Chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai, which was one of the first departments of its kind in the United States. Mount Sinai is also one of the few hospitals in the United States that specializes in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy for lung cancer, which is one of Dr. Flores’ specialties.

On top of his experience with VATS lobectomy, Dr. Flores was also one of the first physicians anywhere in the world to use robotic surgery to treat lung and esophageal cancer.

In addition to leading the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai, Dr. Flores is also the Steven and Ames Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. As a surgical professor, Dr. Flores strives to impart his knowledge of the surgical procedure and patient care onto the next generation of thoracic and cardiac surgeons. He specifically focuses on teaching them about VATS lobectomy procedures.

Dr. Flores is known for his relatable and personable bedside manner. He approaches patient care from a multidisciplinary approach, which means he uses the knowledge of experts across several disciplines and specialties.

His patients can benefit from the insights of multiple experts, including physicians in the Medical Oncology, Pulmonary Medicine, Radiology and Interventional Radiology departments.

MJN Brief

Believing that no two cases of mesothelioma are the same, Dr. Flores refuses to be shoehorned into the belief that extrapleural pneumonectomy is always better than pleurectomy/decortication or vice versa.

Dr. Flores strives to glean as much information as he can before performing an operation. This will allow him to give the patient the best outcome possible, even if it means waiting until after he has made the first incision to determine which surgery he will perform.

Location

Dr. Raja Flores works out of the Ruttenberg Treatment Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY.

Ruttenberg Treatment Center

1470 Madison Avenue

New York, NY  10029

(212) 241-9466

Background

Born in New York, NY, Dr. Flores came from very humble beginnings. He was raised by his single mother, who encouraged him to dream big and work hard to achieve his goals. To help pay for his schooling, Dr. Flores worked several odd jobs, including driving a delivery truck.

He earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from New York University, and from there went on to attend the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. After getting his medical degree in 1992, Dr. Flores completed his first residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Afterward, he completed a Thoracic Oncology Clinical Research Fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana Faber Cancer Institute/CALGB in Boston, and his second residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School, where he specialized in cardiothoracic surgery.

Dr. Flores also received a masters in biostatics and clinical research methods from Columbia University. After completing his residencies, Dr. Flores spent around 7 years at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as an attending thoracic surgeon. While he was there, he established the current program to use VATS lobectomy. He also published 2 studies showing its oncological effectiveness.

VATS lobectomy has comparable survival and recurrence rates to a standard thoracotomy, and it has fewer complications while requiring a shorter hospital stay.

Dedication to Mesothelioma Asbestos Diseases

Currently, he is continuing his research on the consequences to a patient’s health from being exposed to asbestos as the Principal Investigator of the Libby Epidemiology Research Program.

Additionally, Dr. Flores contributes to the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank, which contains a wide variety of searchable biospecimens. This system helps doctors and researchers study mesothelioma, how it spreads, and what kinds of patient outcomes there are for the different treatment plans.

Dr. Raja Flores’ Medical Specializations

Over the course of his career, Dr. Flores strives to improve the quality of life and survival rates of his patients. As a specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he began to use VATS lobectomy to better understand the type of cancer presented before putting a patient through a more invasive surgery.

Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Flores is a thoracic and cardiac surgical oncologist specializing in treating pleural mesothelioma. There is currently no agreement about whether extrapleural pneumonectomy or pleurectomy/decortication works better, and Dr. Flores refuses to pick a side.

Dr. Flores believes that the type of surgery will be determined by the disease stage and the kinds of therapies the patient will be undergoing as a follow-up (for instance, chemotherapy or radiation therapy).

MJN Brief

He doesn’t believe that CT scans are able to effectively show the extent of the tumor. Dr. Flores warns his patients that he won’t know whether he is only removing the lung’s lining (pleurectomy/decortication) or if he will be removing the whole lung (extrapleural pneumonectomy) until after he has made his first incision and can see the full extent of the cancer clearly.

One of the problems faced by oncologists is determining the type of cancer a patient has—mesothelioma or adenocarcinoma. Cancer type determines what treatment options are available.

This is why surgeons need to perform an open pleural biopsy or a VATS lobectomy procedure— where a diseased portion of the lung is removed using three small incisions, instead of the previous method where the chest cavity had to be opened.

With this tiny portion of a patient’s lung, the doctors can determine what kind of cancer a patient has, and which of the 3 types of mesothelioma (epitheliod, mixed and sarcomatoid) they have. This information can help the doctors determine the next steps. This system leads to fewer complications for the patients, has a faster recovery time, and has the same level of effectiveness at determining cancer type as a standard thoracotomy.

Multidisciplinary Treatment

Dr. Flores continues to look for innovative new ways to treat mesothelioma because he believes that a cure will be found one day.

Until that happens, it’s important to constantly discover new methods for improving patient quality of life. One of the ways he does this is through a multidisciplinary approach. The idea behind this approach is that a patient will benefit from being seen by more than one specialist across different fields like oncology or radiology.

Each specialist will see the problem from their own viewpoint. Specialists can work together, share knowledge and create the best treatment plan for the patient.

Working With Dr. Flores

Because of his background, Dr. Flores finds it very easy to relate to his patients because he understands their lifestyle and livelihood. He is highly personable and provides hope to his patients while giving them with the best quality of life he can. This is why Dr. Flores is so willing to work with others and hold off judgment for surgery type until he has all the information before him.

Dr. Flores is one of the best in the mesothelioma field. His patients can rest assured that not only is he a caring physician, but he’s also one of the most capable surgeons.

For more information on working with Dr. Flores, contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today. We can connect mesothelioma patients with the right specialists through our Doctor Match Program.

View Author and Sources
Sources
  1. Mount Sinai, “Department of Thoracic Surgery.” Retrieved from: http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/thoracic-surgery. Accessed on March 23, 2018.
  2. Charles, Katie, “Mesothelioma: The environmental cancer that strikes on the job,” NY Daily News, October 20, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/mesothelioma-environmental-cancer-strikes-job-article-1.190536. Accessed on March 23, 2018.
  3. Mount Sinai, “Raja M Flores, MD.” Retrieved from: http://www.mountsinai.org/profiles/raja-m-flores. Accessed on March 19, 2018.
  4. Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, “Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Treatment - Dr. Raja Flores,” January 13, 2009. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pemZkUwJXcU. Accessed on March 23, 2018.

Last modified: April 16, 2018