The “Garden State” famed for its largest grove of cherry blossom trees in the United States has another reason to be proud. N.J happened to be a home for research and drug development for breast cancer.

Many women who get breast cancer nationwide “owe their lives” to drugs developed and research performed in New Jersey, said Dr. Arnold M. Baskies, medical director at Virtual Health Systems in Voorhees, to Central Jersey.

According to the American Cancer Society, the breast cancer survival rate has improved at a rate of two percent per year. Doctors linked the improvement to N.J’s role in supporting breast cancer drug treatment research.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration have approved dozens of new breast cancer drugs with most of them developed from N.J. There are still hundreds in the works as researchers continue intensifying the studies to a molecular level to further improve the survival rate.

Baskies added that with their continuous effort, it is most likely that the mortality rate of breast cancer may drop by 50 percent.

“We’ve done a very good job over the last 20 years of screening the population and identifying groups of patients who are at high risk of the development of breast cancer,” he said.

“So we’ve done a very good job of curtailing or stopping the development of the disease before it becomes invasive and we’re reaping the benefits of it now,” he said.

Some of the common non-medication treatments for breast cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy and radiation. The type of treatment to be used depends on the severity of the condition. The treatment also varies patient-to-patient.

Some of the famous drugs and treatments from N.J include Merck & Co.’s MK-3475, a drug formulated to restore the body immune’s system and target cancer cells; Novartis’ Afinitor (everolimus) tablets for treating postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer; and Janssen Diagnostics’ CellSearch test which can help count the number of tumor cells in the blood.