Cancer deaths reduced in past decade by 10% to 15%

380 new cases are annually diagnosed among children; five out of six now live for at least five years and are regarded as having recovered.

October 3, 2010 18:25
3 minute read.
PATIENTS SPEND 70,000 hospital days a year in hospital corridors, IMA Chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman c

Hospital 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Thanks to earlier detection, prevention efforts and improved treatments, the mortality rate from cancers has dropped in Israeli men from 189.2 per 100,000 residents and 151.9 among women in 1995 to 164.1 in men and 126.8 in women respectively in 2006.

In addition, 380 new cases are annually diagnosed among children; five out of six now live for at least five years and are regarded as having recovered.

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This encouraging news was released at the Israel Cancer Association’s annual press conference marking its Knock on the Door annual fundraising campaign, which will be held on Monday, October 11 for the 50th time.

Schoolpupils and other volunteers will go from home to home to raise money for the organization, which receives no governmental subsidy, said ICA chairman Prof. Eliezer Robinson and Efi Rosenhaus, president and CEO of Supersol who will chair this year’s campaign.

Donations can also be made by calling 1-800-35-46-46 or sending an SMS to number 1222 with the number 10 (representing NIS 10).

The funds are raised for research, information, purchasing diagnostic and treatment equipment, funding the work of nurses and social workers in oncology departments and helping child patients to do their schoolwork. Mobile clinics dispatched to the periphery by the ICA are raising the mammography rates among Arab and haredi women, who still have the lowest screening rates for breast cancer.

President Shimon Peres discussed on Sunday the toll taken by cancers and urged the public to contribute what they could afford to the ICA’s campaign against it.

Robinson noted that 65 percent of all deaths from cancers can be avoided altogether if people don’t smoke, avoid exposure to the sun’s dangerous rays, follow a nutritious diet, maintain normal weight and exercise regularly. Undergoing screening for breast, colon and other cancers can save even more.

ICA director-general Miri Ziv added that each year, her organization invests some NIS 7 million to fund research by Israeli scientists and doctors who seek treatments and cures for cancer. Today, the gap between discoveries in the lab and applications at the bedside has greatly been reduced, she added. A new survey conducted by Market Watch for the ICA found that 60% of Israelis are more fearful of cancer than of heart disease or diabetes. Most of the public know that smoking causes (lung) cancer, followed by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun (melanoma and other skin cancers). Participants over 30 who were surveyed knew more about the risks of obesity and drinking alcohol than their younger counterparts.

The phone survey of a representative sample of 500 adults also found that a third knew of someone at their workplace who had cancer and over half had a close relative struck by the disease. Eighty-five percent said that if they were diagnosed, they would prefer to receive all details from their doctor, while only five percent said they would prefer not to be told anything.

Women over the age of 50 (or younger if they are at high risk) are more likely to undergo mammography screening for breast cancer. Last year, 72% of relevant women had a mammogram within the previous two years, said Prof. Gad Rennert, director of the National Cancer Registry’s mammography project.

He added that biphosphonates, which are prescribed to women (and men) who suffer from osteoporosis, has shown signs in research of preventing metastasis (spread) of cancer in the bones of women treated for breast cancer. The effects were seen after even just one year of taking the medication. As a result, more research is being conducted to determine whether these commonly used drugs have the ability to prevent breast cancer in women in general. Other factors may be involved in reducing the risk, Rennert said that the biological mechanism behind this phenomenon must be discovered before biphosphonates are routinely prescribed for prevention.

Prof. Miri Cohen, Dr. Hadas Goldblat and Dr. Faisal Aziaza from the University of Haifa and colleagues presented the first-ever study on how Muslim and Christian Arab women cope with breast cancer. The patients were interviewed in person a year after they completed chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The women answered questions about disclosing their disease to relatives, cancer’s effects on their relationships with husbands and religious and cultural influences.

Another study found that liver cancer and chronic liver diseases are much more common among people who ate a lot of red meat and drank a lot of alcohol. Eating fish, turkey and chicken reduced these risks significantly, it was found.

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