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Milestone Memories: Conquer Cancer Researcher Searches for Colorectal Cancer Cures


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On her wedding day, a father—who happens to have colorectal cancer—walks his daughter down the aisle. His oncologist, Rona Yaeger, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, helped him mark this milestone.

Dr. Rona Yeager is a Conquer Cancer Career Development Award (CDA) recipient.

Dr. Rona Yeager is a Conquer Cancer Career Development Award (CDA) recipient.

Currently, patients with BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers face a poor prognosis. Dr. Yaeger and her team are developing targeted combination therapies to treat patients with this molecular alteration in their tumors. A Conquer Cancer Career Development Award (CDA) connected Dr. Yaeger with the resources she needs to treat this difficult disease and to help patients heal.

“Donor support allows us to better understand how colon cancers work and identify potential vulnerabilities for treatment,” explained Dr. Yaeger.

The treatments she is developing target tumors with a BRAF mutation, which occurs when an altered BRAF gene causes cancerous cell growth. Patients with this alteration tend to be older.  “What’s exciting is that in the past few years, targeting these tumors has gone from a scientific idea to a new therapy that is now being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” explained Dr. Yaeger. “A large, randomized clinical trial showed that patients who received targeted therapy lived longer.”

Dr. Yaeger’s research is contributing to novel treatments for patients with this subtype of colorectal cancer, helping more people reach once-in-a-lifetime moments.

“My patient, who was able to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, shared with me how proud he was that he was feeling good and able to dance with his daughter,” reflected Dr. Yaeger.

Though he died from progression of disease, his memory inspires Dr. Yaeger’s devotion to finding cures for cancer.

“His spouse sent me wedding photos and shared what a difference this treatment made to his family,” said Dr. Yaeger. “Those milestones remind us that getting someone to feel better, to get their symptoms under control, makes a difference.” 

© 2020. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.

 


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