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BLOOMINGTON — Susan G. Komen — which funds research, screenings, treatment and education programs to combat breast cancer — is focusing on aggressive and metastatic cancers in its 2017 research funding.

Komen announced $30.7 million in grants for 98 research projects on Sept. 26. They are going to researchers in 27 states and seven countries.

"We are focused on new treatments, ways to overcome drug resistance in breast cancer patients and a better understanding of how and why breast cancer spreads, so that we can better treat metastatic breast cancer or prevent it all together," said Ellen Willmott, interim president and CEO of Susan G. Komen. "This focus on aggressive and metastatic disease is the foundation of our bold goal to reduce U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026."

Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as bones, lungs, liver or brain. It is responsible for nearly all of the nation's 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths. More than 154,000 women in the United States are living with metastatic disease. By targeting metastatic disease, Komen hopes to reduce breast cancer deaths.

The 98 grants include 37 on how to prevent and better treat metastatic breast cancer. Other grants will look into novel treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer, new therapies, drug resistance and disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

The grants include $1,182,497 in funding for research at four Illinois institutions — Northwestern University, Chicago; University of Illinois-Chicago; University of Chicago; and the Society of Surgical Oncology, based in Rosemont. Komen's research investment in Illinois since 1982 is $20,090,805. 

Money for Komen grants comes from fundraising by Komen affiliates, which direct 25 percent of money to national research and 75 percent to local programs and services. Komen Memorial Affiliate, which covers most of Central Illinois, including McLean County, has granted $11,672,456 to community programs and $4,642,723 for research over more than 20 years.

"We are so thankful for the friends, family and neighbors that fight alongside us, helping to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Illinois, both on the ground and through research," said Komen Memorial Executive Director Linda Maricle.

Since 1982, Komen nationwide has invested more than $956 million in breast cancer research and more than $2.1 billion in education, screening and treatment support.

Meanwhile, beginning this month, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Komen is giving individuals an opportunity to directly fund specific research by participating in a crowd funding initiative on Komen's website, www.komen.org.

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Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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