Surgery Successfully Removes Encapsulated Lung Cancer   

Surgery Successfully Removes Encapsulated Lung Cancer

Kim Mosko and her husband sitting close outside and smiling.

September 28, 2023

In October 2022, Kim Mosko, 67, was home alone when she suddenly didn’t feel well. “I broke out in chills and couldn’t breathe,” she says. She called her daughter, who came and took her to JFK University Medical Center

After a CAT scan and blood tests, it was determined that Kim was suffering from pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital for a five-day course of treatment.

Once Kim was out of the hospital, her pulmonologist, Mark Zimmerman, M.D., asked her to follow up with him and sent her for a follow-up CAT scan and PET scan. A week later, Dr. Zimmerman told Kim there was a mass on the lower right lobe of her lung. Dr. Zimmerman had already forwarded all of Kim’s tests and labs to Faiz Bhora, M.D., FACS, professor and regional chair of Surgery and chief of Thoracic Surgery Central Region at JFK.

The Feeling of Being Heard

The usual process for cases like Kim’s is to perform a biopsy of the mass to determine if it is cancerous. However, when Kim met with Dr. Bhora and his team, she requested that the whole mass be taken out. 

“At that point it was encapsulated, and I just wanted it removed,” says Kim. 

Dr. Bhora agreed to this request: “I felt that there was about a 75 percent chance of cancer. Usually, I want to know definitively if it’s cancer, but Kim was a very well-educated patient, and I didn’t think the request was unreasonable.”

Kim expected to have to advocate for herself more forcefully, and was surprised and impressed that Dr. Bhora listened to her concerns and didn’t try to discourage this more drastic course. Before Kim left her initial appointment with Dr. Bhora, she was scheduled for surgery the following Monday.

The five-hour surgery went smoothly, and Kim responded well. She was released from the hospital ahead of schedule. “The experience was unbelievable considering what they were doing,” Kim says. 

Dr. Bhora attributes the success to his and his colleagues’ collaborative approach: “I think our patients can sense our teamwork,” he says.

On the Recovery Road

Initially, Kim needed to be on oxygen when she came home, but within two weeks, she was off it. “I am able to do more every day,” she says.

The removed tumor was malignant, so while the surgery before a firm diagnosis was aggressive action, it was certainly the right choice. Kim is currently undergoing chemotherapy and was discovered to have a gene mutation, which is common in non-smokers who are diagnosed with lung cancer. 

“About 10 to 15 years ago, we treated all cancer patients the same,” says Dr. Bhora. But now, because doctors understand the significance of this mutation, it means Kim can receive a specialized therapy that has been shown to increase her future chance of survival. She began targeted drug therapy in late July 2023.

Today, Kim is focused on doing what she can when she can, and she feels very fortunate to have the cancer diagnosed early. 

Next Steps & Resources:

  • To make an appointment with a thoracic surgeon near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website
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