A long way to go in the fight against cancer

Nobel laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover heads Monday’s Knock on the Door campaign.

Petri dish [Illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Petri dish [Illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The past year brought significant progress in the fight against cancer, especially in harnessing the individual’s immune system against malignant tumors, but there is still a long way to go to overcome all cancers, Prof. Aaron Ciechanover said on Wednesday.
The co-recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for characterizing the cells’ ubiquitin system is honorary chairman of the Israel Cancer Association’s 55th Knock on the Door fund-raising campaign to be held next Monday.
Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology called on the public at an ICA press conference to contribute funds to the association’s struggle to save lives.
Progress in getting the immune system to fight malignancies has been most successful in the last year from the development of drugs to help fight melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer – and has shown progress against lung cancer, said Ciechanover. But, he added, “many other malignancies have no solutions, and not all patients respond to these new treatments.
“These significant gaps require much effort and long years of research to close them,” he added. “Yet these fundamental breakthroughs have been made, and I am sure that modern medicine will save patients and expand their efficacy.”
Israeli researchers and physicians are in the forefront in the development of drugs and treatments, and their achievements are helping people around the world, including those who are against Israel, Ciechanover said.
Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, head of the Health Ministry’s Cancer Registry and an ICA adviser, reported that there has been significant progress in the treatment of cancer in children. While in the 1970s, only half of children diagnosed with malignancies survived five years or more, today, 80 percent do.
Most malignancies in children involve solid tumors in the brain, bone and thyroid gland and the blood (leukemia and lymphoma). In 2012, 417 new cases of pediatric cancer were diagnosed, and 54 children and teens died of it.