Breast cancer research underway at the University of Iowa and at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic is providing encouraging news for women who are fighting the disease. The study’s lead author, Doctor Ruth Johnson at Mayo, says two types of drugs are proving to be effective in preventing breast cancer from returning and for improving survival rates.

Johnson says “Initially, this drug was used for advanced breast cancer. What’s new and exciting about this is that these were women who had earlier-stage breast cancer and we found that even in this group there was this major 52-percent decrease in recurrence.” Every year in Iowa, some two-thousand women are diagnosed with breast cancer and around 450 die from it. Johnson says overall, the number of breast cancer cases is holding steady.

She says “About 40-thousand women a year are dying of breast cancer and that also has been in that range for some years although we did see beginning in the late 90s a small but definite decrease in the death rate from breast cancer.” The American Cancer Society says breast cancer is the leading diagnosed cancer for women in Iowa and it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths, behind lung cancer.