Dr. Raja M. Flores is a leader in the field of thoracic surgery, well known for his research and expertise in pleural mesothelioma, lung cancer and esophageal cancer, among other conditions. Several of Dr. Flores’ studies have led to groundbreaking advancements in surgical techniques and other treatments for mesothelioma, helping to improve patient prognosis. He now serves as Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center and continues to lead clinical trials to improve and find new treatments for mesothelioma and lung cancer. Dr. Flores also acts as Ames Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Dr. Flores medical career began with a degree in biochemistry from New York University, before attending medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As he pursued his residency and fellowships through other prestigious programs, Dr. Flores also earned a master’s degree in biostatistics from Columbia University.
Following his extensive education, Dr. Flores acted as an associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Cornell University from 2000 to 2010. While teaching, Dr. Flores also served as Associate Attending Surgeon at the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 2010, he moved to Mount Sinai Medical Center as Professor and Chief of Thoracic Surgery until 2014. At that time, Dr. Flores became Chairman for the Department of Thoracic Surgery, as well as Steven and Ann Ames Professor in Thoracic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
His work at these institutions has allowed him to be viewed as a pioneer in the field of thoracic surgery, especially for his research for pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Flores has led numerous major studies, like a clinical trial of neoadjuvant gemcitabine and cisplatin followed by extrapleural pneumonectomy and high dose radiation, a multimodal treatment that veered away from the long-standing standard of care for mesothelioma.
Dr. Flores was also the lead investigator of the Libby Epidemiology Research Program, a nearly $5 million grant funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to monitor the effects of asbestos exposure on Libby residents. Dr. Flores has also been highly involved in efforts to help first responders who are still facing health impacts from exposure during the events of 9/11. Since the tragic event first occurred, Dr. Flores has been active in treating and monitoring rescue and recovery workers through the World Trade Center Health Program.
Clinical Interests and Research
Dr. Flores’ career as a thoracic surgeon has influenced his interest in a number of conditions and the latest advancements in treatment, whether new types of surgical procedures or exploring the technological advances of robotic assisted surgeries.
Dr. Raja M. Flores' Medical Areas of Interest
- Pleural mesothelioma
- Lung Cancer
- Video-assisted thoracic surgery
Because of his wide and varied interests, as well as his experience treating a number of different cancers and conditions, Dr. Flores’ research has also been quite diverse throughout his career. Among his most cited and well-known studies is his groundbreaking comparison of surgical techniques for pleural mesothelioma. For years, doctors would rely on the aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy as the standard for eligible patients, but Dr. Flores reasoned that a newer technique that spared the lung, called a pleurectomy/decortication, could actually achieve better survival with less side effects and complications. Dr. Flores is also well-known for having been part of compiling one of the largest mesothelioma patient databases to research areas of failure and seek ways to improve treatment.
His work has also had a great impact on lung cancer. Dr. Flores has established a video-assisted lobectomy as a standard of care, publishing studies to show how the minimally invasive surgery led to shorter hospital stays, fewer complications and improved survival rates with lower rates of recurrence. His work for pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer has had great impacts on patient survival and quality of life already, and he continues to be a leader in research and clinical trials to further improve treatments for these and other cancers.
Dr. Flores has authored more than 150 publications, as well as contributed to numerous books. He also currently serves as an editor for a number of journals, including the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
Pulmonary abnormalities as a result of exposure to Libby amphibole during childhood and adolescence-The Pre-Adult Latency Study (PALS). American Journal of Industrial Medicine. January 2017; 60(1): 20-34. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22674
Quality of life after surgery for pleural malignant mesothelioma – methodological considerations. The Journal of Community and Supportive Oncology. December 2016. doi: 10.12788/jcso.0309
Current Treatment of Mesothelioma: Extrapleural Pneumonectomy Versus Pleurectomy/Decortication. Thoracic Surgery Clinics. August 2016; 26(3):359-75. doi: 10.1016/j.thorsurg.2016.04.003
Pleurectomy decortication for mesothelioma: The procedure of choice when possible. The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. February 2016; 151(2): 310-312. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2015.10.036
Determinants of Survival in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Study of 14,228 Patients. PLoS One. December 2015 14;10(12):e0145039. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145039
Dr. Flores has received many accolades during his career for his groundbreaking research and compassion for his patients. He’s been included in top doctors lists for New York Magazine, America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Doctors for Cancer lists on numerous occasions. He has also received special recognition with several awards.
- Dr. Irving Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award – Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
- Member of the Society of Honorary Police Surgeons of the City of New York – NYPD
- Steven and Ann Ames Professorship in Thoracic Surgery – Icahn School of Medicine