A world-renowned expert in malignant pleural mesothelioma will lead the Thoracic Surgical Oncology Program at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. Thoracic surgeon Raja M. Flores, MD, is known for conducting a landmark study of pleural mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lung lining. This study has become one of the most frequently cited studies from the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in recent years.
Mesothelioma is caused by inhalation or ingestion of tiny asbestos fibers. Asbestos was once prized in many industries for its resistance to heat and chemicals. By the 1980’s it was understood that when shards of asbestos enter the lungs they can trigger physiological changes and cellular inflammation that may lead to cancer decades later. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been exposed to asbestos and many more are still working in construction and demolition trades in which they are continually being exposed. Without adequate protection, the EPA says these workers are at risk for mesothelioma. Although asbestos use is tightly regulated in most countries, in the U.S. it is still not banned.
Dr. Flores’ work in pleural mesothelioma has focused on the differences in survival rates with different treatment approaches. His landmark study, “Extrapleural Pneumonectomy versus Pleurectomy Decortication in the management of malignant pleural mesothelioma”, contrasted two different surgical approaches. In addition, he helped to develop the technique of intraoperative chemotherapy and has played an active role in clinical trials of new chemotherapeutic drugs as well as new combinations of therapeutic approaches with surgery and high-dose radiation. Dr. Flores has also compiled a database of more than 1,000 mesothelioma patients in order to track their treatment outcomes.
“Dr. Flores joins us at a propitious moment in the history of our cancer program,” says Wayne Keathley, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Mount Sinai Hospital. “We are emerging as a clear leader in caring for patients facing mesothelioma and cancers of the esophagus or lung.”
Dr. Flores received his MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed his residency in General Surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. He completed a Thoracic Oncology Clinical Research Fellowship and a Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency in Boston. He also holds a Masters Degree in Biostatistics from Columbia University.
Two to three thousand Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma annually.
Raja Flores, MD, Named Chief of Thoracic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine website, June 1, 2010. Flores, Raja et al. “Extrapleural pneumonectomy versus pleurectomy/decortication in the surgical management of malignant pleural mesothelioma: Results in 663 patients”, The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2008; 135: 620-626.