School strike could harm campaign to fight cancer

Organization depends on thousands of pupils who go house to house to collect donations.

October 7, 2007 23:14
2 minute read.
School strike could harm campaign to fight cancer

no school 298.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Three percent of the population - about 200,000 people of all ages and backgrounds living in Israel - have been diagnosed at some time in their lives with cancer and hope for or have achieved recovery, according to the Israel Cancer Association. The ICA will hold its annual Knock on the Door fundraising campaign on October 15. The most common types are cancer of the breast (4,000 newly diagnosed each year), colon/rectum (3,000), prostate (2,000), lung (1,500), lymph glands (1,300), melanoma of the skin (1,200) and bladder (1,100), with the rest divided among 200 other types of tumors. The fundraising campaign, aimed at financing the ICA's wide range of activities that go on without state subsidy, is being headed this year by Benny Steinmetz, the Israeli billionaire whose private company, BSG, invests in diamonds, natural resources, real estate and energy, both in Israel and overseas. Steinmetz, who donated an unpublicized amount of money, said Sunday that he was honored to chair the effort, which has become an "inseparable part" of Israel and represents the mobilization of the community to save lives. ICA director-general Miri Ziv, in a meeting with the press, expressed her concern that if a high school teachers' strike is launched and continues into next week, it could affect the organization's campaign, as thousands of school pupils go house to house collecting donations. The ICA has 70 branches around the country and many volunteers. The funds are used for cancer research, prevention and early diagnosis (such as the dispatch of mobile mammogram vans around the country), treatment, education and assistance to cancer patients. A large grant of NIS 150,000 will be awarded for research on the connection of cancer and the environment during the coming year, ICA chairman Prof. Eliezer Robinson said. New Israeli-American research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that Jewish women of Ashkenazi and Iraqi origin have identical gene mutations (BRCA1) that cause about 10% of breast cancers in Israel. The study, conducted by Prof. Gad Rennert of the National Cancer Control Center at Carmel Medical Center, in cooperation with Prof. Steven Narod of the University of Toronto, found that carriers and non-carriers of the gene mutations have the same chance to recover from it. Even though the disease is more serious among carriers and clinically more complicated than among non-carriers, modern chemotherapy is more effective in these women, thus raising their survival rates by 50%, Rennert found. This was an unexpected finding, he said.

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