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'I struggle with my patients': Memphis cancer doctor shares why medicine is personal

A Baptist Cancer Center doctor shared why he followed in his grandfather's footsteps and how new technology is saving lung cancer patients.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For Dr. Anurag Mehrotra, medicine is personal and runs in the family.  

“There was a lot of expectation,” said Dr. Mehrotra. "If I didn’t do it there would be a big disappointment.”

His grandfather worked in a lab and his father was a physician. 

The decision to follow in their footsteps meant living away from family while he worked toward his degree.  

“My son was 3-years-old and my daughter was 1 year old,” said the doctor. “I decided to leave them for a year and go to Chicago to do an additional fellowship just for this interventional pulmonology.” 

Dr. Mehrotra came to Memphis in 2014 as a fellow and joined Baptist Memorial Hospital in 2018 to study lung cancer.   

He said the only reason he decided to come to the U.S. was to practice the most advanced form of medicine there is.  

“I didn’t want to look back 20 years and have regrets that if this is what I really wanted to do, I wanted to help these patients, why didn’t I do it?” he shared.

Mehrotra was drawn to the field because of its difficulty and the great need in Memphis to save lives.

He’s now heading a program at Baptist Cancer Center which detects lung cancer early, the first of its kind in the city.  The new technology supports Baptist’s Mid-South Miracle goal of reducing lung cancer deaths in the Mid-South.

The robotic bronchoscopy provides safer and quicker detection of smaller tumors. 

“I struggle with my patients,” he said. “I can look in the eyes of my patients and tell my patients you can go anywhere in this country, I'm going to do as good a job as any.” 

Mehrotra said that his job has made his grandfather proud.  

“He did see me get into medical school but he passed away before I graduated from school,” he said. 

Mehrotra said if his grandfather could see him now, his words would be, “I think, a culture of work is very imbued, you got to keep at it.”