Meet Thoracic Surgeon Valerie Rusch
Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS
Vice Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Surgery; Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers
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
New Patient Appointments
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Dr. Rusch 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, Columbia University
General Surgery - University of Washington; Cardiothoracic Surgery - University of Washington
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Surgery; Thoracic Surgery
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.
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.
Awards and Honors
- Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2002-2004, 2013-2020)
- Clinical Trials Co-Investigated by Dr. Rusch
- A Phase II Study of Alectinib, Entrectinib, or Vemurafenib/Cobimetinib Therapy Before Surgery in Patients with Nonmetastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with Certain Molecular Changes
- A Phase III Study Assessing the Addition of Radiation Therapy to Surgery and Chemotherapy to Treat Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma
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
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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.