Meet Thoracic Surgeon Daniela Molena
Daniela Molena, MD
Director, Esophageal Surgery Program
Lung and Esophageal Cancers; Thymic Malignancies; Pulmonary Metastases; Mesothelioma; Paraesophageal Hernias; GERD; Barrett’s Esophagus; Bronchoscopy and Endobronchial Ultrasound; Gastrointestinal Endoscopy; Minimally Invasive Surgery
New Patient Appointments
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Dr. Molena accepts the following list of insurance providers. Select your insurance provider to see more details.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Aetna HMO, POS, and PPO plans. Aetna does not include us in any of the plans you can purchase through the insurance exchanges or through Medicare. Please ask your insurance if you need a one-time referral. MSK has an agreement with the Aetna Transplant Program for all Aetna's commercial products.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Blue Distinction Center for bone marrow transplant and CAR-T.
We understand that there may be many complexities involved with insurance coverage purchased through the health exchange network of the Affordable Care Act. We’re here to help. If you have questions about how your care will be covered by an insurance provider, or need help navigating a change in coverage, please call us at 646-227-3378; if you are not a resident of New York, you can call us at 866-248-1274. Our team is here to listen to your concerns and assist you in any way we can. We want our care to be as accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with CIGNA's HMO, POS, and PPO plans. CIGNA does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
- If you are a New York State resident: Please ask your insurance if you need a one-time referral.
- If you live outside of New York State: Please ask your insurance if you have in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with EmblemHealth’s PPO, EPO, POS, HMO plans. EmblemHealth includes GHI, HIP, Vytra, and ConnecticCare (in NYS Only). You must bring a referral from your Emblem primary care doctor to your first appointment. In-network participation exceptions include:
- Emblem’s HIP Commercial Millennium, Select Care and Enhanced Care Prime networks is not in-network with Memorial Sloan Kettering.
- Please call Emblem to confirm if your specific plan is in-network.
For information regarding Memorial Sloan Kettering’s participation with Emblem’s Medicare Advantage Plans, please refer to the Medicare & Medicaid page
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Wellpoint) of New York Indemnity, HMO, EPO, PPO, POS and Medicare Advantage plans, with the following exceptions:
- Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
- Please call Empire BCBS to confirm if your specific plan is in-network with Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with HealthFirst’s commercial products; these commercial products are not purchased on the insurance exchanges.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with HealthSmart’s Accel, HSPC, and HPO networks.
For our NJ locations, Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with most Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey plans for individuals, families, and small businesses. Horizon members with Blue Card Access (there would be a suitcase logo on the front of the card) may have access to our NY locations. Please call Horizon to confirm if your plan is in-network in NY.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Humana.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Interlink Health Services.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Lifetrac.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider for all MagnaCare health plans except those products you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
For information about Medicare and Medicaid, please visit this page
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with some Multiplan/Beech Street/PHCS plans. Contact your insurance carrier to find out if your plan provides in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Multiplan.
If you are covered by more than one insurance plan, you will want to determine your benefits from both plans. First, you need to determine which one is your primary insurance provider by contacting your employee benefits office or your insurance carriers. After you find out which is your primary insurance provider, you should then contact your insurance carrier to determine if you have access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with some MVP plans. Contact your insurance carrier to find out if your plan provides in-network access to Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider for New York State employees who have enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's Cancer Resource Services. If you have the Empire Plan, you should call Cancer Resources Services at 866-936-6002 to verify and enroll in this coverage.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is in-network with Oscar’s Circle Plus Network, a part of its Small Group Broad line that is offered only to select small business groups. Oscar does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider for any of its individual plans. Please confirm eligibility with your insurance carrier.
Most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider. Contact your insurance company to confirm if Memorial Sloan Kettering is in-network.
We have agreements with several insurance companies that may provide additional coverage for cancer patients. These benefit programs include:
- AXA Assistance USA
- Beech Street
- Integrated Health Plans
- National Health Administrators
- National Preferred Provider Network
- UnitedHealthcare's Cancer Resource Services
- United Resource Network
- Veterans Choice Program
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with Oxford’s Freedom and Liberty plans as well as the Metro Plan (which is only offered to small business groups and no longer offered as individual plans). Please confirm with your insurance if you need a one-time referral. Note: Oxford’s Medicare Managed Care plan — Secure Horizon — does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider. Oxford does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with the World Trade Center Health Program.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with QualCare's PPO and HMO/POS network.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by Specialty Care Management.
Hospital and physician services may be covered by TRICARE. Please call your TRICARE plan to confirm coverage at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is an in-network provider with UnitedHealthCare's HMO, POS, and PPO plans. Please confirm with your insurance if a one-time referral is needed.
UnitedHealthCare's Medicare Managed Care plan does not include Memorial Sloan Kettering as an in-network provider.
United does not include us in any of the plans you can buy through the insurance exchanges.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is a designated Center of Excellence by UnitedHealthcare.
Contact and Location
Memorial Sloan Kettering has locations throughout New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester. These locations offer many services, including screening, chemotherapy, and medical testing.
MD, University of Padova School of Medicine
General Surgery - University of Padova; General Surgery - University of Rochester Medical Center
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
Thoracic Surgery; General Surgery
I am an experienced thoracic surgeon with expertise in diagnosing and treating people with cancers of the chest, including the lungs, esophagus, mediastinum, and pleura. I also have a deep understanding of benign esophageal diseases (such as GERD, Barrett’s esophagus, hiatal hernia, and other potential precursors of esophageal cancer) and 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.
I strive to provide excellent and individualized care to my patients. As a strong patient advocate, I try to involve both patients and caregivers and work with them as a team 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 and I work with experts from multiple disciplines to develop the best treatment plan that is tailored to their 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 Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Esophageal Program, I lead a supportive team that helps people with esophageal cancer understand what to expect during their journey, prepares them for surgery, and helps them recover as quickly as possible. I also developed MSK’s Barrett’s program in collaboration with my colleagues in gastroenterology to identify people who are at risk of developing esophageal cancer and help prevent progression.
I study and integrate new technology and novel 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 pathways to decrease costs and improve results, and identifying racial and socioeconomic disparities that limit access to excellent care.
I co-lead several clinical trials that are investigating the role of immunotherapy and/or targeted therapy before or after surgery in patients with esophageal cancer. I am also Principal Investigator of a trial that aims to identify sentinel nodes in esophageal cancer in order to limit surgical dissection in the future.
I am the vice president of Women in Thoracic Surgery and have a leadership role of 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 mud 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!
Awards and Honors
- America’s Top Doctors (2017-2021)
- Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2017-2021)
- Clinical Trials Co-Investigated by Dr. Molena
- A Phase I Study of Telomelysin Added to Chemoradiation for Patients with Advanced Inoperable Esophageal Cancer
- A Phase I/II Study of Durvalumab and Chemoradiation before Surgery for Esophageal Cancer
- A Phase II Study of Pembrolizumab Immunotherapy plus Trastuzumab or Trastuzumab Alone after Surgery in Patients with Esophagogastric Tumors
- A Phase III Study of Durvalumab Immunotherapy and FLOT Chemotherapy Before and After Surgery in Patients with Operable Stomach and Gastroesophageal Junction Cancers
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.
Research and Publications
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 Jul;272(1):113-117. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000003202.
Molena D, DeMeester SR. The dilemma of T1 esophageal adenocarcinoma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2017 May;153(5):1206-1207. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2016.10.106. Epub 2017 Feb 16. [PMID: 28314532]
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. 2020 Nov 24:S0022-5223(20)33097-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2020.10.138. Online ahead of print. [PMID: 33334599]
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 Mar;161(3):836-843.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2020.11.106. Epub 2020 Dec 17. [PMID: 33485662]
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. 2020 Nov 12:10.1097/SLA.0000000000004479. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004479. Online ahead of print. [PMID: 33201124]
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.
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:
Johnson & Johnson
Provision of Services
UroGen Pharma, Inc.
Provision of Services
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, 2020 through disclosure submission in spring 2021). This data reflects interests that may or may not still exist. This data is updated annually.