Israeli camera could beat ultrasound in detecting cancer

23,000 Israelis will have been diagnosed with cancer by the end of 2006.

October 18, 2006 01:48
3 minute read.
Israeli camera could beat ultrasound in detecting cancer

cancer camera 88. (photo credit: )


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Eleven million people around the world - 23,000 of them Israeli - will have been diagnosed with cancer by the end of 2006, according to Prof. Peter Boyle, head of the World Health Organization's International Agency for Cancer Research (IACR) based in Lyon, France. But Israeli researchers, "who are among the best in the world," are helping to increase the survival rates of more patients, he said, pointing to an experimental device originally developed in the Israeli defense industry that has the potential to provide earlier and better diagnoses. The Histocan, which includes a tiny air-driven camera, is being tested by Prof. Nadir Arber of Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, and "has the potential to be a serious competitor of the ultrasound in detecting lesions," Boyle told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Tuesday. "Bedside applications are not too far away," he added. In a year, the Histocan may be ready for use in diagnosing ovarian cancer, Boyle said, "which at present is very hard to detect in its early stages, as well as colorectal and other cancers. "We at the IACR have had longstanding collaboration with Israeli researchers, who have produced remarkable biotechnology with enormous potential for early diagnosis of cancer," he noted. Boyle, a Scottish epidemiologist from the University of Glasgow visiting Israel for the second time, was invited by the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) to open its annual Knock on the Door fundraising campaign. The ICA hopes to raise NIS 10 million on Monday, October 23, as schoolchildren visit homes around the country to collect money for the continuing battle against cancer. "The ICA is very important, and I'm very happy to show solidarity with Israeli efforts to fight the disease," Boyle said. Boyle pointed to several recent achievements in the fight against cancer. One is the development of a preventive vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted through sexual contact and causes cervical cancer in women. However, Boyle said, the vaccine is not yet on the market anywhere in the world, and no country has yet committed itself to free vaccination of pre-adolescents. The three-series vaccine is available in two versions, by Merck-Sanofi-Avensis and GlaxoSmithKline, and is initially expected to cost $100 per shot. "We at the IACR are trying to bring down the price so that it can be used widely to prevent this deadly type of cancer," Boyle said. At the same time, Boyle added, Pap smears for the detection of cervical cancer in those who have not been vaccinated must continue vigorously. Speaking at the annual ICA press conference in advance of the fundraising campaign, ICA head Prof. Eliezer Robinson said that 120,000 Israelis currently receive treatment for cancer or are being monitored after treatment. Dr. Moshe Carmon, head of the breast health center at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, presented a study showing that 63 percent of Israeli women believe that most breast cancer patients develop the tumor because of a family history when in fact, 70% of all patients do not have the defective genes that are responsible for high risk of such tumors. Because many women without a family history of breast cancer think they are "safe," they do not go for mammograms to detect tumors at an early, treatable stage, he said. ICA director-general Miri Ziv said that the struggle against the disease is a continuing one that requires research, prevention, education, the purchase of advanced equipment, treatment and rehabilitation. With so few state funds for this purpose, Ziv said, the ICA must fill the vacuum, with financial help from the general public. Clal Insurance managing director Avigdor Kaplan will serve as chairman of this year's fundraising campaign. Kaplan noted that IDB, which Clal Insurance serves as its financial arm, will donate NIS 1 million to the campaign, and called on other businesses to follow suit.

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