Memorial Sloan Kettering surgeon Daniela Molena

Daniela Molena, MD

Thoracic Surgeon

My Role at MSK

Areas of Expertise

My Specialties

  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Thymic Malignancies

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About Me

What I Do at MSK
  • Director, Esophageal Surgery Program
Get To Know Me

I am an experienced thoracic surgeon who specializes in diagnosing and treating people with cancers of the chest. These include cancers of the lungs, esophagus, mediastinum, and pleura.

I also have a deep understanding of benign (non-cancerous) esophageal diseases, such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)Barrett’s esophagus, hiatal hernia, and other conditions that can lead to esophageal cancer). Additionally, I have expertise in treating dysmotility disorders (such as achalasia, diverticula, and ineffective motility), which can severely impair quality of life in people with cancer.

I perform about 500 operations each year and care for approximately 1,500 patients annually. Whenever possible, I use minimally invasive techniques, such as video-assisted thoracic surgery and laparoscopic or robotic procedures to decrease pain and enhance recovery.

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I strive to provide excellent and individualized care to my patients. As a strong patient advocate, I work as a team with both patients and caregivers from diagnosis to recovery and follow-up.

A cancer diagnosis is a very stressful event for patients and their loved ones. Patients often fear for their lives and worry about burdening their family members. I feel honored that patients trust me during such a challenging time to help them with decisions that are difficult and complex. I always reassure my patients that we are in this fight together and I hope they feel encouraged, understood, and confident that they have me as an ally along the way.

Every patient is unique. I work with experts from multiple disciplines to develop the best treatment plan that is tailored to each patient’s specific needs. It’s fulfilling to see patients go back to their lives, cancer-free. I also thrive on the complexity of thoracic oncology and the opportunities I have to move the field forward.  

As Director of the esophageal program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), I lead a supportive team that helps people with esophageal cancer:

  • Understand what to expect during their journey
  • Prepare for surgery
  • Recover as quickly as possible

I also developed MSK’s Barrett’s program in collaboration with my colleagues in gastroenterology. This program helps identify people who are at risk of developing esophageal cancer and works to prevent disease progression among those who have it.

I study and integrate new technologies and surgical approaches to make surgery more precise and effective. For example, for people early-stage disease, we are able to save the esophagus and remove the cancer using an endoscope through the mouth. We can also remove and reconstruct the esophagus using small incisions and a camera either with minimally invasive or robotic approaches. For those who have more advanced cancer, we offer personalized treatments that are based on the patient’s specific genomic analysis.

My research focuses on:

  • Zeroing in on ways to improve clinical and functional outcomes after surgery
  • Designing clinical processes to decrease costs and improve results
  • Identifying racial and socioeconomic disparities that limit access to excellent care.

In addition, I co-lead several clinical trials that are investigating the role of immunotherapy and/or targeted therapybefore or after surgery in patients with esophageal cancer. I am also Principal Investigator of a trial that aims to identify sentinel lymph nodes in people with esophageal cancer in order to limit the extent of surgery they would need in the future.

I am the President of Women in Thoracic Surgery and have a leadership role in several thoracic organizations in the US and abroad. I am also editor and associate editor of national and international thoracic journals.

Outside of work, I love to travel and go on family vacations with my husband, son, and daughter. I look forward to visiting my family back in Italy and hiking in the Dolomite Mountains there, which holds a very special place in my heart. We also like to sail on the Long Island Sound and have chartered boats in the Caribbean.

I have a green thumb and my home is filled with many plants. It gives me great pleasure to see plants grow. Every new leaf is a celebration. I especially enjoy rescuing orchids, which my husband sometimes finds in the trash and carries them home for me to bring back to life! I re-pot them and fix their roots and when they flower their beauty brightens my day and makes me happy!

My dog Spritz also brings me joy. We adopted our adorable, 90-pound chocolate mutt from a shelter. He looks like a chocolate lab but has seven different breeds in him (I checked his DNA!) He is my baby now that our kids have left the house, and we are empty nesters!

My Role at MSK

A thoracic (thor-A-sik) surgeon is a doctor with special training in surgery on the chest, lungs, trachea (windpipe), and thymus.

Areas of Expertise

My Specialties

  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Thymic Malignancies
  • Pulmonary Metastases
  • Mesothelioma
  • Paraesophageal Hernias
  • GERD
  • Barrett’s Esophagus
  • Bronchoscopy and Endobronchial Ultrasound
  • Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery
Education & Honors

Education

  • MD, University of Padova School of Medicine

Residencies

  • General Surgery - University of Padova
  • General Surgery - University of Rochester Medical Center

Awards and Honors

  • Castle Connolly: America’s Top Doctor (2024)
  • President, Women in Thoracic Surgery (2023-2025
  • Top Doctors New York Metro Area, Castle Connolly (2023)
  • America’s Top Doctors (2017-2023)
  • Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2017-2023)
  • American Registry, Most Honored Professionals, Patients’ Choice (2017-2022)

Fellowships

  • Gastrointestinal Surgery - University of California San Francisco
  • Minimally Invasive Surgery - University of Padova
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery - NewYork Presbyerian/Weill Cornell Medical Center
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery - University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Board Certifications

  • Thoracic Surgery
  • General Surgery

Insurance Information

Understanding your insurance options is an important part of managing your cancer care. We have relationships with many common healthcare providers and plans.

Aetna

In Network Coverage Type
HMO, EPO PPO, POS, Transplant

Aetna Medicare Advantage (MTA retirees only)

In Network Coverage Type
PPO

Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program

In Network Coverage Type
HMO, PPO

Blue Cross Blue Shield New York

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, EPO, HMO

Blue Cross Blue Shield states outside of NY/NJ

In Network Coverage Type
HMO, EPO PPO, POS

Blue Cross Health Plus

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Carrum Health

In Network Coverage Type
Supplemental

Cigna

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, HMO

Connecticare

In Network Coverage Type
POS, EPO, HMO

Emblem

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, EPO, HMO

Offers a qualified health plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace. Call Emblem to learn more.

Emblem Essential

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Emblem Medicare Advantage

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, HMO

Empire Blue Cross Medicare Advantage

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, HMO, DSN

Empire Essential

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Empire Plan / NYSHIP (Blue Cross/UnitedHealthcare split plan)

In Network Coverage Type
PPO

Fidelis

In Network Coverage Type
HMO, EPO

Offers a qualified health plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace. Call Fidelis to learn more.

Fidelis Managed Medicaid & HARP

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Fidelis Medicare Advantage

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

First Health

In Network Coverage Type
PPO

Healthfirst

In Network Coverage Type
EPO, HMO, PPO, POS

Offers a qualified health plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace. Call Healthfirst to learn more.

Healthfirst Managed Medicaid

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Healthfirst Medicare Advantage

In Network Coverage Type
HMO, PPO

Healthsmart

In Network Coverage Type
PPO EPO

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey (HMO)

In Network Coverage Type
HMO

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey (PPO)

In Network Coverage Type
PPO

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey Omnia Tier I (EPO)

In Network Coverage Type
EPO

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield New Jersey Omnia Tier II (EPO)

In Network Coverage Type
EPO

Horizon Medicare Advantage

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, HMO

Husky CT Medicaid

In Network Coverage Type
State Government

Magnacare

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, EPO

Straight NJ Medicaid

In Network Coverage Type
State Government

Straight NY Medicaid

In Network Coverage Type
State Government

Medicare Part A&B (traditional Medicare)

In Network Coverage Type
Federal Government

Multiplan/Beech Street/PHCS

In Network Coverage Type
Supplemental

MVP

In Network Coverage Type
PPO/OAP

Non-Participating Plans with Out of Network Benefits

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, EPO, HMO

NYC Medicare Advantage Plus for City Employees

In Network Coverage Type
TBD

Oscar

In Network Coverage Type
HMO/EPO

Oxford

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, EPO

World Trade Center Health Program (WTC)

In Network Coverage Type
State Government

Qualcare

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, HMO

Tricare

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, HMO

UMR

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS

United Healthcare

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, HMO

Don't see your carrier or plan? We can help you understand your coverage.

If you don't have health insurance or are worried that your care may not be fully covered, our financial assistance programs may be able to help.

If you have questions about insurance, call us at 646-497-9176.

Make an Appointment

Current Patients

Request an appointment by logging on to MyMSK or calling your doctor’s office. If you aren’t registered for MyMSK, call 646-227-2593 for your Enrollment ID.

Contact and Location

Dr. Molena sees patients at two locations.

Office Phone
Location
New York, NY
Middletown, NJ

Looking to see a doctor at a different location? See all MSK locations.

Colleagues

Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering work as teams, with specialists from all different areas. This allows us to consider all your needs together, and to give you the best possible care.

See all Thoracic Service doctors

Clinical Trials

Smiling doctors in the lab
Find a Clinical Trial for You

Memorial Sloan Kettering's doctors and scientists are constantly developing new treatments for cancer. MSK is typically running hundreds of clinical trials at a given time.

You may be able to participate in a clinical trial even if you are new to MSK. Search our online directory to find trial information and see more about who can participate.

Search clinical trials

Research and Publications

Induction FOLFOX and PET-Directed Chemoradiation for Locally Advanced Esophageal Adenocarcinoma. Carr RA, Hsu M, Harrington CA, Tan KS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Ilson DH, Isbell JM, Janjigian YY, Maron SB, Park BJ, Rusch VW, Sihag S, Wu AJ, Jones DR, Ku GY, Molena D. Ann Surg. 2023 Mar 1;277(3):e538-e544. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005163. Epub 2021 Aug 13.PMID: 34387205

Waiting to Operate: The Risk of Salvage Esophagectomy. Boerner T, Harrington C, Tan KS, Adusumilli PS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Downey RJ, Huang J, Ilson D, Isbell JM, Janjigian YY, Park BJ, Rocco G, Rusch VW, Sihag S, Wu AJ, Jones DR, Molena D. Ann Surg. 2023 Jan 19:10.1097/SLA.0000000000005798. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005798. Online ahead of print.PMID: 36727949

Nobel TB, Livschitz J, Eljalby M, Janjigian YY, Bains MS, Adusumilli PS, Jones DR, Molena D. Unique considerations for females undergoing esophagectomy. Ann Surg. 2020;272(1):113-117.

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Molena D, DeMeester SR. The dilemma of T1 esophageal adenocarcinoma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2017;153(5):1206-1207.

Sihag S, De La Torre S, Hsu M, Nobel T, Tan KS, Gerdes H, Shah P, Bains M, Jones DR, Molena D. Defining low-risk lesions in early-stage esophageal adenocarcinoma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021;162(4):1272-1279.

Sihag S, Ku GY, Tan KS, Nussenzweig S, Wu A, Janjigian YY, Jones DR, Molena D. Safety and feasibility of esophagectomy following combined immunotherapy and chemoradiotherapy for esophageal cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021;161(3):836-843.

Sihag S, Nobel T, Hsu M, Tan KS, Carr R, Janjigian YY, Tang LH, Wu AJ, Bott MJ, Isbell JM, Bains MS, Jones DR, Molena D. A more extensive lymphadenectomy enhances survival following neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced esophageal adenocarcinoma. Ann Surg. 2022;276(2):312-317.

Carr RA, Hsu M, Harrington CA, Tan KS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Ilson DH, Isbell JM, Janjigian YY, Maron SB, Park BJ, Rusch VW, Sihag S, Wu AJ, Jones DR, Ku GY, Molena D. Induction FOLFOX and PET-directed chemoradiation for locally advanced esophageal adenocarcinoma. Ann Surg. 2023;277(3):e538-e544.

Carr RA, Harrington C, Vos E, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Isbell JM, Park BJ, Sihag S, Jones DR, Molena D. Treatment of anastomotic recurrence after esophagectomy. Ann Thorac Surg. 2022;114(2):418-425.

Carr RA, Harrington C, Stella C, Glauner D, Kenny E, Russo LM, Garrity MJ, Bains MS, Sihag S, Jones DR, Molena D.Early implementation of a perioperative nutrition support pathway for patients undergoing esophagectomy for esophageal cancer. Cancer Med. 2022;11(3):592-601.

Nobel TB, Carr RA, Caso R, Livschitz J, Nussenzweig S, Hsu M, Tan KS, Sihag S, Adusumilli PS, Bott MJ, Downey RJ, Huang J, Isbell JM, Park BJ, Rocco G, Rusch VW, Jones DR, Molena D. Primary lung cancer in women after previous breast cancer. BJS Open. 2021;5(6):zrab115.

Boerner T, Jin CJ, Harrington C, Bilsky MH, Yamada YJ, Molena D. Efficacy of an esophageal spacer for spine radiosurgery: first experience. Pract Radiat Oncol. 2022;12(4):e312-e316.

Harrington CA, Carr RA, Hsu M, Tan KS, Sihag S, Adusumilli PS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Isbell JM, Park BJ, Rocco G, Rusch VW, Jones DR, Molena D. Patterns and influence of nodal metastases after neoadjuvant chemoradiation and R0 resection in esophageal adenocarcinoma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022;164(2):411-419.

Sihag S, Nussenzweig SC, Walch HS, Hsu M, Tan KS, De La Torre S, Janjigian YY, Maron SB, Ku GY, Tang LH, Shah PM, Wu A, Jones DR, Solit DB, Schultz N, Ganesh K, Berger MF, Molena D. The role of the TP53 pathway in predicting response to neoadjuvant therapy in esophageal adenocarcinoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2022;28(12):2669-2678.

Harrington CA, Hsu M, Tan KS, Medina B, Boerner T, Adusumilli PS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Isbell JM, Park BJ, Sihag S, Rusch VW, Jones DR, Rocco G, Molena D. Translating telemedicine to thoracic surgical oncological care: performance analysis and patient perceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ann Surg. 2023;278(1):e179-e183.

Boerner T, Carr RA, Hsu M, Michel A, Tan KS, Vos E, Sihag S, Bains MS, Ku GY, Wu AJ, Jones DR, Molena D.Incidence and management of esophageal cancer recurrence to regional lymph nodes after curative esophagectomy. Int J Cancer. 2023;152(10):2109-2122.

Boerner T, Harrington C, Tan KS, Adusumilli PS, Bains MS, Bott MJ, Downey RJ, Huang J, Ilson D, Isbell JM, Janjigian YY, Park BJ, Rocco G, Rusch VW, Sihag S, Wu AJ, Jones DR, Molena D. Waiting to operate: the risk of salvage esophagectomy. Ann Surg. 2023 [Online ahead of print].

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Molena’s journal articles. Pubmed is an online index of research papers and other articles from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

See all on PubMed

Disclosures

Doctors and faculty members often work with pharmaceutical, device, biotechnology, and life sciences companies, and other organizations outside of MSK, to find safe and effective cancer treatments, to improve patient care, and to educate the health care community.

MSK requires doctors and faculty members to report (“disclose”) the relationships and financial interests they have with external entities. As a commitment to transparency with our community, we make that information available to the public.

Daniela Molena discloses the following relationships and financial interests:

  • AstraZeneca
    Professional Services and Activities
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
    Professional Services and Activities
  • Johnson & Johnson
    Professional Services and Activities
  • Merck & Co Inc.
    Professional Services and Activities

If you’re a patient at MSK and would like more information about your doctor’s external relationships, please talk with your doctor.

The information published here is for a specific annual disclosure period. There may be differences between information on this and other public sites as a result of different reporting periods and/or the various ways relationships and financial interests are categorized by organizations that publish such data.


This page and data include information for a specific MSK annual disclosure period (January 1, 2022 through disclosure submission in spring 2023). This data reflects interests that may or may not still exist. This data is updated annually.

Learn more about MSK’s COI policies here. For questions regarding MSK’s COI-related policies and procedures, email MSK’s Compliance Office at [email protected].


View all disclosures