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Raja Flores, M.D.

Dr. Raja Flores is currently the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Director of Thoracic Surgical Oncology Program at Mount Sinai Cancer Center. He is a world-famous cardiothoracic surgeon with expertise in pleural mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, and lung cancer. His landmark work in surgical treatment of mesothelioma changed the way surgeons approach the treatment of this disease, focusing on less invasive techniques that cause fewer complications and help maintain better quality of life.

Education

Dr. Flores is currently recognized as a leader and an expert in studying and treating pleural mesothelioma, but he did not set out to be a doctor specializing in this rare cancer. He began his education at New York University, earning an undergraduate degree in biology. He then earned his medical degree in the Bronx at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Following his medical school graduation, Dr. Flores went on to complete a general surgery internship and residency at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He completed a clinical research fellowship in thoracic oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and a cardiothoracic surgical residency, also at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to his medical programs, Dr. Flores has also earned a master’s degree in biostatistics at Columbia University and completed a program in clinical effectiveness at the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Inspired to Specialize in Mesothelioma

Dr. Flores worked under a mesothelioma specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and it was during this time that he was inspired to follow in his mentor’s footsteps. He was interested in this rare disease and the challenge of finding better ways to understand and treat it. He also found he could relate to the patients, often blue collar workers who were victims of workplace asbestos exposure. Coming from a similar background, Dr. Flores understood these patients and had a strong desire to help them and to provide better care.

Career and Mount Sinai

A native of New York, Dr. Flores has never strayed far from the city in his career. After residencies in Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, he worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and held a position as an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery. He then accepted a position at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he is now the chief of thoracic surgery.

Throughout his career Dr. Flores has distinguished himself as a highly skilled surgeon dedicated to patient care and to research. As a surgeon he is known for having one of the lowest complication rates in patients, which demonstrates his skill and his dedication to keeping patients comfortable and with a good quality of life. He has also been noted as advancing treatment of mesothelioma by helping to compile thousands of case studies of patients so that other physicians and surgeons can search it and learn from the mistakes and successes of others.

In addition to leading research that has developed less invasive surgical procedures for mesothelioma and other thoracic cancers, Dr. Flores is also a leading educator. He has led the way in teaching other surgeons how to perform minimally-invasive procedures, particularly the VATS lobectomy he was instrumental in developing.

Research and Development of Surgical Mesothelioma Treatments

One of the most important areas of research for Dr. Flores has been developing and improving upon surgical procedures used to treat mesothelioma. He was first moved by the challenges patients faced after undergoing an extrapleural pneumonectomy. This radical surgery is one of the few current ways that mesothelioma has a possibility of being cured, but it leaves patients with only one lung and greatly reduces quality of life.

Dr. Flores has worked on developing better surgical treatments to manage mesothelioma while improving quality of life. His work has included developing VATS lobectomy. This is minimally-invasive procedure that uses video-assisted thoracic surgical (VATS) techniques. His research proved that this surgery was as successful as a similar procedure that involves opening up the chest cavity. He also found that it led to fewer complications and better recovery times. In another study, Dr. Flores found that removing just part of the pleura in pleural mesothelioma patients was an effective treatment that improved quality of life.

Clinical Trials

In his goal to develop better treatments and to improve patient care, Dr. Flores has led a number of clinical trials. These have included studies of using adjuvant chemotherapy ahead of extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery and using a trimodal approach to treating mesothelioma with chemotherapy, radical surgery, and finally radiation therapy. He also led a trial with a large number of patients comparing outcomes between extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy with decortication, a less radical surgical procedure.

Organizations and Honors

As an expert and distinguished cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Flores has earned membership in many professional organizations and has received numerous honors. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has been named one of America’s and New York’s top doctors for many years in a row. He has also been honored as a compassionate doctor for his dedication to patient care and comfort. He belongs to the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the General Thoracic Surgical Club, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network, and the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Flores is a recognized expert in mesothelioma treatment and is well known for his excellent patient care and skill as a surgeon. Through his research and teaching he has helped to make important advances in the care of patients living with this terrible disease. If you are a mesothelioma patient, working with Dr. Flores could be life-changing.

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