Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS -- Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Surgery; Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers

Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS

Thoracic Surgeon

My Role at MSK

Areas of Expertise

My Specialties

  • Thoracic Surgical Oncology
  • Lung Cancer
  • Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
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About Me

What I Do at MSK
  • Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Surgery
  • Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers
Get To Know Me

I am a thoracic surgeon who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of people with cancers of the lung, airways (trachea and bronchi), esophagus, mediastinum, chest wall, and pleura (malignant pleural mesothelioma). I have 25 years of experience as a thoracic surgeon, and was among the first women in the country to be board certified in this specialty.

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My colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering and I use the highest level of technological expertise to treat our patients. But I also believe in a hands-on, person-to-person approach to ensure that my patients receive the best possible care. To minimize patients’ discomfort and the length of their hospital stay, we use minimally invasive techniques such as VATS (video-assisted thoracic surgery) and the latest high-tech procedures including robotically assisted surgery whenever possible. To determine the stage of lung and other thoracic cancers, we often use EBUS (endobronchial ultrasound) and EUS (esophageal ultrasound). These techniques allow us to determine the extent of tumors without an incision.

Today’s optimal care of people with cancer depends on the close involvement and coordination of physicians in multiple specialties. Tightly integrated, multidisciplinary care is the hallmark of our approach to the management of thoracic cancers. Our Thoracic Disease Management Team meets twice a week to discuss complex patient problems at our Thoracic Tumor Board and to develop and oversee multidisciplinary research at our team research conference. With my colleagues, I am responsible for coordinating multiple research studies aimed at improving the care of our thoracic patients. We are proud of our active participation in national and international clinical trials and are studying many new ways to help people with the most difficult cancers, including better methods to diagnose cancers at an earlier stage and the testing of new cancer treatments. My own research efforts focus on the genetics and treatment of lung cancer, malignant pleural mesothelioma, and esophageal cancer.

A native New Yorker, I graduated from the Lycée Français de New York and Vassar College and am fluent in both French and English. I received my MD degree from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, then completed residency training in general surgery and thoracic surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. After that, I spent one year at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for additional training in thoracic oncology before joining the faculty at the University of Washington for six years. In 1989, I joined the staff at MSK.

In addition to other responsibilities, I currently serve as Chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, as a Regent (i.e., member of the Board of Directors) of the American College of Surgeons, as Chair of the Lung and Esophagus Task Force of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, and as Chair of the Mesothelioma Subcommittee of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s Staging Committee. I contribute regularly to peer-reviewed specialty surgical and oncology journals and have written chapters on lung cancer, mesothelioma, esophageal cancer, pleural disease, and mediastinal disease for several medical textbooks.

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

  • Thoracic Surgical Oncology
  • Lung Cancer
  • Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Mediastinal Tumors
  • Tumors of the Chest Wall
  • Pulmonary and Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
  • Tracheal and Bronchial Disease and Resections
Education & Honors

Education

  • MD, Columbia University

Residencies

  • General Surgery - University of Washington
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery - University of Washington

Awards and Honors

  • Top Doctors New York Metro Area, Castle Connolly (2023)
  • Exceptional Women in Medicine Award, Castle Connolly (2023)
  • Castle Connolly: America's Top Doctors (2023)
  • Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2002-2004, 2013-2020)

Fellowships

  • The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Board Certifications

  • Surgery
  • Thoracic 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

MSK has a tentative agreement with Cigna to continue coverage in 2024.

Connecticare

In Network Coverage Type
POS, EPO, HMO

Emblem

In Network Coverage Type
PPO, POS, EPO, HMO

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

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

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.

Contact and Location

Dr. Rusch sees patients at two locations.

Office Phone
Location
New York, NY

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 Surgery doctors

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

Books
Esophageal Tumors: Principles and Practice. Jobe B, Hunter J, Thomas C, Rusch VW, eds. New York: Demos Medical Publishing; 2011.

Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. O’Byrne K, Rusch V, eds. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP; 2006.

Selected Book Chapters
“Lung” and “Mesothelioma.” Rusch VW, AJCC Lung, Esophageal and Mesothelioma Task Force. In: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, Fritz AG, Greene FL, Trotti A, eds. New York: Springer; 2009: Chapters 25-26.

“Diffuse malignant mesothelioma.” Rusch VW. In: General Thoracic Surgery. 7th ed. Shields TW, LoCicero J, Reed CE, Feins RH. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2009: 847-859.

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 “Lung metastasis.” Rusch VW. In: Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG, eds. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 873-884.

“Technique of extrapleural pneumonectomy for malignant pleural mesothelioma.” Rusch VW. In: Thoracic Surgery. 3rd ed. Pearson FG, Patterson A, Cooper J, Deslauriers J, Lerut T, Luketich J, Rice T, eds. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 1186-1193.

“Pleural effusions: benign and malignant.” Rusch VW. In: Thoracic Surgery. 3rd ed. Pearson FG, Patterson A, Cooper J, Deslauriers J, Lerut T, Luketich J, Rice T, eds. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 2008: 1042-1054.

“Surgical and multimodality approaches to the management of operable malignant mesothelioma.” Boffa DJ, Rusch VW. In: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. O’Byrne K, Rusch V, eds. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP; 2006.

“Lung neoplasms.” Chang A, Martin J, Rusch VW. In: Greenfield’s Surgery: Scientific Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Mulholland MW, Maier RV, Lillemoe KD, Upchurch Jr GR, Doherty GM, eds. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2006: 1367-1431.

“Lung cancer workup and staging.” Park BJ, Rusch VW. In: Sabiston and Spencer’s Surgery of the Chest. 7th ed. Selke FW, del Nido PJ, Swanson SJ, eds. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 2005.

 

Publications on PubMed

Visit PubMed for a full listing of Dr. Rusch’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.

Valerie W. Rusch discloses the following relationships and financial interests:

  • National Cancer Institute
    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].


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