Welcome to the New Lung and Esophageal Center
Editor’s Note: The photo above was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s newly opened Lung and Esophageal Center provides comprehensive care for patients with the full range of benign and malignant thoracic conditions, with a focus on diagnostics and surgical treatments. Conditions we commonly treat include lung nodules and cancer, esophageal cancer, hiatal hernia and GERD, achalasia, chest wall deformities, and airway disease, among other conditions. Our providers, three board-certified thoracic surgeons, an interventional pulmonologist, and two advanced practice providers work together to create individualized treatment pathways for each patient.
Close collaboration with colleagues in specialties such as medical oncology, radiation oncology, gastroenterology, and interventional radiology, as well as participation in weekly interdisciplinary thoracic oncology conferences, ensures that our patients are presented with the best possible treatment options for their unique condition.
We employ a breadth of novel and traditional diagnostic and surgical tools in caring for our patients. Our Center was one of the first in the nation to receive the Auris Monarch Navigational Bronchoscope that allows us to navigate more precisely within the lung and biopsy nodules that previously would have been unreachable or too small to sample. Our surgeons are well versed in the use of both open and minimally invasive, including robotic, thoracoscopic, and laparoscopic, surgical techniques, in addition to endoscopic and bronchoscopic treatment options.
The core of the Lung and Esophageal Center is a group of four fellowship-trained surgeons and an interventional pulmonologist who together offer unmatched, collaborative expertise. Our sub-specialty training and unique interests allow us to offer expert care for a wide variety of thoracic conditions.
I’m John F. Lazar, MD, and I am a board-certified thoracic surgeon and the Director of Thoracic Robotics at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I am an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and serve on the executive board of the Eastern Cardiothoracic Surgical Society. My interests are in surgical innovation and the treatment of early stage lung cancer utilizing both surgical and endo-bronchial robotic platforms. I have interest in applying minimally invasive surgery to the treatment of airway diseases.
Puja G. Khaitan, MD, FACS, is the Director of Esophageal Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Associate Professor of Surgery at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Her practice interests include minimally invasive treatment of lung and esophageal cancer, including mesothelioma. Her research interests include the treatment of esophageal cancer from a molecular standpoint and markers for long-term survival.
Marc Margolis, MD, FACS, is a board-certified thoracic surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery at Georgetown University. His surgical interests include robotic lobectomy for lung cancer and treatment of benign and malignant esophageal disease. He has extensive experience working with chest wall disorders (both benign and malignant) that require complicated reconstruction, as well as surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
Jessica Wang Memoli, MD, is the Director of Bronchoscopy and Interventional Pulmonology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She specializes in the diagnosis and management of pulmonary diseases, as well as the evaluation of lung cancer and lung nodules.
Announcing the new Lung and Esophageal Center @MedStarWHC! Our surgeons are dedicated to applying their skills to the unique profile of every patient. https://bit.ly/2BhQLYx via @MedStarWHC @jflazar
How We Work With You
Every patient that receives care in our Center is unique in their anatomy and underlying condition, whether benign or malignant. The expertise of our clinicians allows us to recognize the unique profile of each patient and their overall goals to ensure excellent outcomes.
Let’s look at how this works for a typical patient with possible lung cancer. A life-long smoker is seen in the Lung Cancer Screening Program and their CT scan detects a suspicious lung nodule. The patient is then referred to the Lung and Esophageal Center where they would meet both me, the surgeon, and Dr. Wang Memoli, the interventional pulmonologist, on the same day. We call this a multi-disciplinary visit where two specialists work together to create an individualized plan to biopsy the nodule. Any additional necessary pre-procedure testing is coordinated for the patient while they are here for their visit.
A multi-disciplinary visit and in-person care coordination can reduce additional appointments and the time to diagnosis, allowing for more expedited treatment. Dr. Wang Memoli and I will perform the biopsy together, usually within one week of the patient’s initial clinic visit.
If the biopsy results show cancer—and surgery is indicated—the patient has already established a rapport with me and we can proceed with scheduling the surgery, avoiding the typical two- to three-week delay between diagnosis and procedure. When the biopsy reveals later stage disease or when surgery is not the best treatment option for a patient, their case is discussed at our multi-disciplinary thoracic oncology conference and alternative treatments, such as radiation and/or chemotherapy, are promptly initiated. A weekly tumor board creates a platform for each case to be critically evaluated from multiple angles within a single discussion. Our collaboration with the Washington Cancer Institute allows for our patients to participate in cutting-edge clinical trials, when applicable.
Our patients have been extremely satisfied with the flow and continuity of this multi-disciplinary approach. We pride ourselves on ensuring that our patients do not get lost to follow-up and our close collaboration with related specialties allows our patients to be seen and treated in a timely manner.
Continuously Serving Patients Better
When we work with a patient who requires a surgical procedure, a key determination is deciding when it’s time to bring a patient into the operating room. I discuss each case with my partners and frequently consult with my colleagues in radiology, gastroenterology, and medical oncology.
With many experienced resources at hand, we develop informed recommendations about whether surgery is indicated and share our rationale with the patient. This empowers the patient to make the most educated decision about their treatment and care.
Our staff looks forward to serving the community. We encourage patients to contact us for help in considering the options that are most likely to produce a successful outcome.