Oct 19, 2021

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By 2035, smoking will be much less common because chronic smokers will die out, restrictions on where one can smoke will be tougher and educational efforts will persuade people that tobacco is deadly. 


Then, obesity will bypass smoking as a risk cancer for cancer, according to Dr. Shani Paluch-Shimon, an adviser to the Israel Cancer Association (ICA) and director of the breast oncology unit at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. 


That is what the oncologist told the Knesset Health Committee on Monday. The committee, chaired by Yemina MK Idit Silman, held a special discussion this morning on early detection and improving breast cancer treatment options


Alongside the event, a mammography mobile van was parked for a day on the Knesset plaza. Such vans function at the initiative and with the ICA’s and is run by the Assuta Medical Centers. Medical staffers performed mammograms on female Knesset members and parliamentary staffers over the age of 50 or those with a family or personal history of breast cancer. 


Prof. Lital Keinan-Boker, director of the Health Ministry’s National Center for Disease Control, said that in most Western countries, mammography as a screening test is performed over the age of 50 – the age at which the benefit outweighs the potential harm. 

Paluch-Shimon, an international expert on breast cancer in young women, said that since obesity is going to bypass smoking by 2035 as a risk factor for cancer, including breast cancer, there must be a national plan to cope with excessive weight, which is the “plague of the century.”


Mammography as a screening test for young women causes many cases of overdiagnosis and has limitations related to the structure of the breast. False positive or negative results can then cause harm to women. 

Meirav Damari of the ICA’s information department added that although the genetic test for genetic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer have been included in Israel’s health services basket for healthy Ashkenazi women, even if they have no family history.


Due to the coronavirus crisis, very few women came to perform the test that which could save their lives. When it comes to genetic counseling, there are still too few MRI devices that healthy and sick carriers are entitled to in the basket once a year, and there are not enough imaging doctors who specialize in deciphering this important but sensitive test. 


To advance the research and reduce the risk, the ICA initiated the national mammography project that has led to the early diagnosis of breast cancer; this has resulted in cure rates in Israel that are among the highest in the world, with a 25% drop in mortality rates from breast cancer in the last decade.  


According to WHO data for 2020, Israel ranks relatively high in 26th place in the number of patients diagnosed each year, probably due in part to the high prevalence of the BRCA mutations in Ashkenazi women. On the other hand, Israel is ranked very low, in 69th place, in mortality rates.