(WTNH) -- Researchers have made great strides in breast cancer detection and treatment over the past few years, but the ultimate goal is to keep getting better.
Annie Kaplan was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.
"Even though your world collapses...you take a deep breath and you say 'how am I going to beat this?'" Kaplan said.
Advances in research at the time helped her to beat it at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
"When I had radiation, it was the entire breast and now this has changed too," said said. "They can target and you can do just a little bit. It's incredible."
Targeted therapies are where cancer treatment is now, but that too is evolving.
"I think with targeted therapies that the next real advance forward maybe is when we learn how to combine different types of targeted drugs with each other," said Dr. Michael DiGiovanna at Yale Cancer Center.
Dr. DiGiovanna, who is also a researcher, is working on combining certain targeted drugs to slow cancer growth.
"We're seeing when we combine these drugs together we get better effects than using single drugs even when we might not have expected the drugs to work."
Early results are promising in animal studies, but there are roadblocks.
"The most challenging part is having the funding and the time to keep it rolling forward at a pace we would like to be," Dr. DiGiovanna said.
There is where the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative comes in.
Without the money, breast cancer researchers like Dr. DiGiovanna would have little to show of their work.
"We have a criteria that they have to meet and so it varies how much we give out," Dr. DiGiovanna said, "of course it varies, how much we have."
More women are surviving, but still too many are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Dr. DiGiovanna recommends that women undergo screenings with a mammogram to help improve cure rates.
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