NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- In recent years, researchers have made great strides in breast cancer detection and treatment, but that research is fueled by something equally important: it can't be done without money.
Annie Kaplan was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago.
"Even though your world collapses, then 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 so they can target and you can do just a little bit," Kaplan said. "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, Yale Cancer Center.
Researcher Dr. Michael DiGiovanna is 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," said Dr. DiGiovanna, "even when we might not have expected the drugs to work."
Early results are promising in animal studies, but there are road blocks.
"The most challenging part is having the funding and the time to keep it rolling forward at a pace we would like to be," said Dr. DiGiovanna.
"The importance of what we do give is called seed money," said Joyce Bray, CT Breast Health Initiative .
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," Bray said, "of course it varies how much we have."
More women are surviving, still too many are diagnosed with breast cancer.
"Every day, every year more and more things are discovered, that's why Dr. DiGiovanna's time in the lab is so important and precious," Kaplan said. "As much as we as patients want to ask him questions and take his time up, his time in the lab is what really keeps us alive."
Dr. DiGiovanna recommends that women undergo screening with a mammogram to help improve cure rates.
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