Marking half a century of work to fight the more than 100 types of malignant
diseases, the Israel Cancer Association noted that the chances for recovery have
risen during this period from 30 percent to 60%.
Thanks to earlier
detection and better medical technologies such as radiation, immunological drugs
and chemotherapy at the disposal of oncologists and surgeons, more patients
recover or survive more years.
At a press conference to mark the
launching of its 51st Knock on the Door Campaign to be held on Monday, October
31, ICA officials noted that in general, cancer deaths are declining, but in
certain populations such as Arab men and women and certain types of diseases,
they are increasing.
Cancer survival is higher than ever in children,
with 80% living at least five years after diagnosis (compared to 50% in the
1970s) and 75% surviving for a decade or more.
In men, there was a
decline in mortality rates between 1999 and 2008 of the five most common cancers
colorectal, 27% less; prostate (31%); stomach (31%); lung (5%) and pancreas
(1%). At the same time, there is an increase of cancer mortality in Arab men
colorectal, 17% more; stomach (20%); lung (7.4%); and pancreas (1.3%).
women, there has been a decline in mortality from the two most common type of
cancers in Israel, breast, 22.5% less, ovarian (3.3%) and colorectal (30%) but a
nearly 11% increase in pancreatic, 5.8% in lung.
colorectal, bladder and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma constituted over half of all new
cancers in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, thyroid and uterine cancer were
over half of those in women.
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The general decline in cancer cases may be
due to technologies that detect pre-cancerous lesions in time and improved
lifestyle in some Israelis, but too many remain sedentary and do not eat
Also at the event, President Shimon Peres, ICA Chairman
Prof. Eliezer Robinson and ICA Director-General Miri Ziv all paid tribute to ICA
founding president Suzy Eban, who died last month at the age of 90.
lauded Eban’s long standing commitment to the ICA.
In the course of his
speech, Peres declared that all citizens of Israel must be guaranteed equal
access to preventive medicine and to life-saving drugs regardless of age,
religion or race. He exhorted Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, also
present, that “cost should not be a factor when saving lives is at
Israel Prize recipient Prof. Alexander Levitzki, who has received
many international awards for his work in cancer research and discoveries,
bemoaned the fact that unlike the US, Israel does not have a specific cancer
research institute, nor does cancer research in Israel benefit from government
The only organization that is totally dedicated to researching,
preventing, detecting and treating cancer is the ICA, he said, adding that in
view of ever-increasing cancer statistics, and the many kinds of cancers that
exist, it was time for the government to establish a cancer research
Litzman did not exactly concur, but said that the entire world
should invest as much in cancer research as is invested in aerospace research –
especially as more people are affected by cancer than by what goes on in outer
The chairman of this year’s fundraising campaign for the ICA is
Hubert Leven, president of the Rashi Foundation since 1984, who was invited by
association deputy chairman Leon Recanati to fill the post.
without hesitation, in deep awareness of the vital need to fight continuously
this terrible illness,” said Leven, who was first diagnosed with cancer 51 years
ago and was thought to have a maximum life expectancy of four more
“Advanced medical research is struggling constantly with the
complex and tricky nature of cancer. Recent research has saved the lives of many
children and adults, or at least extended them significantly. Were it not for
the effective results obtained by so many research teams throughout the world, I
would not have the privilege of being here today,” he said.
“Not only am
I still here today but I have since had two other non-related cancers for which
I am also on remission. So yes, investing in cancer research and prevention does
produce life-changing results and this is essentially why I so readily accepted
this mission,” said Leven.
For the last 10 years, the Rashi Foundation
has offered a special summer camp at the Nitzana Youth Village for children
coping with cancer, in partnership with the Soroka University Medical Center in
The foundation is giving a gift of NIS 1 million for the Knock
on the Door Campaign, in which schoolchildren will visit homes around the
The Rashi Foundation grant will be designated for widescale
activity among youth, aiming to promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent
“We believe that education towards a healthy way of life and
increased awareness among the young generation can help to defeat the illness
and stop it from spreading,” Leven said.
A mobile education unit
sponsored by Rashi and the Israel Cancer Association will visit schools
throughout the country, with special emphasis on schools in the geographic and
social periphery of Israel.
The ICA’s activities include the funding of
cancer research; information and education; building national programs for early
detection; supporting poor cancer patients; helping children to keep up with
their studies during treatments; paying salaries to nurses, social workers,
dietitians and others who help cancer patients in hospitals and the community;
and helping patients to use their rights.Greer Fay Cashman contributed
to this report.
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