All my prepared questions fly out of my mind as I greet Dr. Lee and his team. It’s been several months since I first contacted Dr. Lee to ask about his new thoracic surgery program at Jupiter Medical Center in coastal Florida, but it has taken this long for me to find a way to Florida. After nine months here, Dr. Lee is well-settled into his new position as medical director of the thoracic surgery and lung center.
Detecting and treating lung cancer
We talk about the regional differences in thoracic surgery, with Dr. Lee confirming that the majority of his practice is surgical oncology; including diagnosed lung cancer and solitary pulmonary nodules. In fact, since coming to Jupiter, Dr. Lee has started a lung cancer screening program based on the newly released CT scan guidelines for the early detection of lung cancer, as well as a lung nodule clinic for the evaluation of lung nodules.
Minimally invasive surgery
With Dr. Lee, “minimally-invasive’ is the theme. “I want patients to ask, ‘do I have to have a thoracotomy?” he states. “I want patients to know that there are minimally invasive options,” he continues as he talks about the advantages of minimally invasive techniques such as robotic-assisted thoracic surgery (RATS) and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). “Why should patients have all the pain [associated with large surgical incisions] if there is no reason not to do minimally invasive surgery?”
Dr. Lee should know; he’s been performing robotic surgery since 2003.
As part of his commitment to advancing technologies, he has recently paired with Ethicon Endo-surgery to be able to provide training in minimally invasive surgery to thoracic surgery colleagues all over the world. Twice a month, he travels to other facilities to demonstrate these techniques for other surgeons. The operating rooms at the hospital here have recently been outfitted for web-based broadcasting for the remainder of the time, so that surgeons, regardless of location are able to watch these demonstrations.
He reports that learning to perform robotic surgery is easier for surgeons to learn than video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery, explaining that while the instrumentation is different (using robotic arms to perform surgery), the tissue manipulation and techniques are closer to open surgery [compared to VATS], and thus more familiar to conventionally trained surgeons.
I didn’t get to see Dr. Lee in the operating room – but soon, everyone will be able to.
 Surgeons interested in learning more can contact either Ethicon Endo-surgery or Dr. Lee directly.
* I was surprised to find out that the lung cancer screening program (CT scan, radiology interpretation/ consultation and a consultation with a thoracic surgeon) is under 300.00 USD. In an age of exorbitant medical fees, this is an affordable option for early detection of lung cancer.
Categories: Interviews with Thoracic Surgeons