Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, is the director of Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital. An internationally recognized medical oncologist who is an expert in gastrointestinal cancers, he is the co-leader of a $12 million cancer research grant from Stand Up to Cancer. The grant was awarded to a team made up of 50 of the country’s top colorectal cancer researchers
These cancers of the colon or rectum are the leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women.
Dr. Fuchs’ efforts to expand cancer treatment options for patients with colorectal cancer took on personal meaning when his wife, Joanna, developed colon cancer when she was only 44. The average age for developing colon cancer is 70. She survived, thanks to early detection. “If she hadn’t had a colonoscopy, it could have been a different outcome,” Dr. Fuchs says.
Being on the other side of cancer diagnosis has deepened Dr. Fuchs’ understanding of the disease’s toll on patients and their families. “As difficult as these experiences are, you learn from them,” he says. “I understand what my patients and their families are going through. I’ve been there."
“While I do this for a living, it’s devastating to learn your loved one has cancer,” says Dr. Fuchs. “There are a series of tests, and you wait on pins and needles wondering what’s going to happen in this step,” he says.
His research focuses on better understanding the genetic drivers of colorectal cancers. These cancers don’t respond to immunotherapy the same way others do. So he’s relentless in his pursuit of answers that could save hundreds of thousands of lives.