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Dr. Raja Flores

Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Raja M. Flores is the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. He established video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy as the gold standard in lung cancer treatment. Learn more about Dr. Flores and how Mesothelioma Hope can connect you with him or other top specialists.

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Overview

About Dr. Flores

Dr. Raja Flores is a board-certified thoracic and cardiac surgeon and chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He also serves as the Steven and Ann Ames Professor in Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.

Mount Sinai is also one of the few hospitals in the United States that specializes in VATS lobectomy for lung cancer, which is one of Dr. Flores’ specialties. Further, Dr. Flores was one of the first physicians in the world to utilize robotic surgery to treat lung and esophageal cancers.

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.

“Getting a mesothelioma diagnosis can be very scary. So many people go on Google and find either misinformation or information that doesn’t apply to their individual situation. Mesothelioma is not a guaranteed death sentence — there are options that you have.”
– Dr. Raja Flores, pleural mesothelioma specialist

Professional Background

Born in New York City, Dr. Flores was raised by a single mother who encouraged him to dream big and work hard to achieve his goals. To help pay for his education, Dr. Flores worked several odd jobs, including driving a delivery truck.

Dr. Flores began his post-secondary education at New York University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry. He then went to medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his medical degree in 1992.

He spent the next five years completing his internship and residency in general surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, followed by a thoracic oncology clinical research fellowship in a joint program by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Faber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Dr. Flores remained at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School to pursue a residency in cardiothoracic surgery, which he finished in 2000.

Did You Know?

Dr. Flores spent approximately 7 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as an attending thoracic surgeon. He established the facility’s current VATS lobectomy program and published two studies demonstrating its oncological effectiveness.

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

In 2010, Dr. Flores was named chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center and the Endowed Chair in Thoracic Surgery at Icahn School of Medicine. He has chaired the Department of Thoracic Surgery for Mount Sinai since 2014.

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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.

Throughout his career, Dr. Flores has participated in numerous formal research projects, several of which focused on better understanding and treating mesothelioma. He has authored 300 peer-reviewed manuscripts, reviews, books, and book chapters. Dr. Flores has also delivered over 100 formal lectures and presentations in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

This work has allowed him to travel to dozens of countries, including:

  • Brazil
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Switzerland

Dr. Flores was named a 2022 NY Top Doc by a division of USA Top Docs. This exclusive health care resource reviews and approves providers based on merit after they have been extensively vetted.

Medical Specializations

Dr. Flores strives to improve the quality of life and survival rates of his patients using a variety of treatment options.

Treating Pleural Mesothelioma

Dr. Flores is a thoracic and cardiac surgical oncologist specializing in treating pleural mesothelioma.

“Here at Sinai, what we try to do is focus in on sparing the lung, so if there is a chance to spare that person’s lung and do something called a pleurectomy/decortication (P/D), that’s what we attempt to do,” he explains.

However, Dr. Flores can also use a lung-removing treatment called an extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) if a patient’s case warrants it. Believing that no two cases of mesothelioma are the same, Dr. Flores refuses to be shoehorned into the belief that EPP is always better than P/D or vice versa.

“I think there’s a misconception that surgery is this big morbid procedure. But it depends on who is performing the surgery — you have to make sure it’s done by someone who’s experienced in these surgeries specifically.”
– Dr. Raja Flores, pleural mesothelioma specialist

He 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, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. He doesn’t believe that CT scans are able to effectively show the extent of the tumor.

Diagnosing Pleural Mesothelioma

One of the challenges that oncologists experience is determining the type of cancer that a patient has — mesothelioma or adenocarcinoma. This distinction determines what treatment options are available.

Often, 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 removed, the doctors can determine what kind of cancer a patient has, as well as which of the three cell types of mesothelioma (epithelioid, mixed, and sarcomatoid) they have. This information can help doctors determine the best 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.

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Multidisciplinary Treatment

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

Until that happens, it’s important to constantly explore 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.

“What we’re trying to do is help patients live longer with a better quality of life.”
– Dr. Raja Flores, pleural mesothelioma specialist

Dr. Flores’s Current Work

Dr. Flores is the current chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, where he oversees the treatment and care of thousands of patients each year.

He concurrently teaches the next generation of surgeons as the Steven and Ann Ames Professor of Thoracic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Dr. Flores is a member of over many professional associations, such as:

  • American Association of Thoracic Surgeons
  • American College of Chest Physicians
  • American College of Surgeons Oncology Group
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Lung Cancer Alliance
  • Society of Surgical Oncology

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Dr. Flores’ Healing Philosophy

Dr. Flores applies a trimodal approach to treating most mesothelioma patients but always prioritizes their needs. Dr. Flores and his team at Mount Sinai recognize that the right treatment for one person may not be the right treatment for another.

“What we do here is tailor the treatment to the individual patient. If you have a 35-year-old woman who’s newly married and just had a stage 2 mesothelioma diagnosis — she’d be treated very differently than an 80-year-old male who’s stuck in a wheelchair and has stage 2 mesothelioma.

So, you need to treat the patient and not just the stage of the disease.”
– Dr. Raja Flores, pleural mesothelioma specialist

Dr. Flores also favors minimally invasive techniques and is an advocate for video-assisted and robotic surgery. For mesothelioma patients, he always tries to spare the lung, favoring P/D whenever possible.

However, he believes there are times and cases when an EPP is the more appropriate treatment option. For example, his team would perform an EPP if the lung has already lost its ability to function due to the spread of mesothelioma.

This willingness to perform both standard mesothelioma surgeries is somewhat unique among mesothelioma specialists.

Connect With Dr. Flores and Other Mesothelioma Specialists

Dr. Flores easily relates to his patients because he understands their lifestyles and livelihoods. He is highly personable and provides hope to his patients while giving them the best quality of life he can.

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.

Use our Free Doctor Match program today to connect with Dr. Flores and other leading mesothelioma specialists who can help improve your prognosis.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. Raja Flores. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. Raja Flores directly.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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References
  1. Cision. (2022, December 21). Thoracic Surgeon, Raja M. Flores, MD Named 2022 NY Top Doc. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://www.prweb.com/releases/thoracic_surgeon_raja_m_flores_md_named_2022_ny_top_doc/prweb19086702.htm
  2. Mount Sinai. Raja M Flores, MD. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://profiles.mountsinai.org/raja-m-flores
  3. NY Daily News. “Mesothelioma: The environmental cancer that strikes on the job.” Retrieved June 12, 2024, from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/mesothelioma-environmental-cancer-strikes-job-article-1.190536
  4. U.S. News & World Report. “Dr. Raja M. Flores.” Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://health.usnews.com/doctors/raja-flores-8123
  5. YouTube. “Mesothelioma – Dr. Raja Flores – Mount Sinai Hospital.” Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJk_LzL7YNg
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