Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. Fighting the disease takes place on all fronts – from reducing the risk of contracting breast cancer to raising awareness of early diagnosis, improving treatment methods and supporting research.
Reducing the Risk
A healthy lifestyle, including physical activity, proper weight and healthy diet, limiting alcohol and avoiding smoking and weight gain can reduce the risk of contracting breast cancer. Experts from the Israel Cancer Association also recommend breastfeeding, as it has been scientifically proven that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast cancer.
Early diagnosis of breast cancer significantly improves the chances of recovery and increases the cure rate to some 90% and higher. It saves lives. Early detection may also decrease the length and intensity of treatment. The Israel Cancer Association initiated a national early detection mammography program which is implemented by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the HMO’s. The examination is free of charge as part of the health basket for women of the appropriate age. In order to narrow the gaps in socially and geographically peripheral areas the Association purchased a mammography mobile unit. Since it became operational the gaps among the various segments of society have decreased significantly.
Improving Treatment and Rehabilitation Methods
After being diagnosed, a woman must keep in mind that thanks to improved treatment methods, in most cases breast cancer can be cured. The multidisciplinary staff in today’s comprehensive breast cancer centers provides treatment under one roof, centered on the patient. It is the woman’s right to be part of the decision making process regarding her treatment, based on explanations of the various options, including reconstruction, and also to ask for another opinion. A network of nurses and social workers work with the women and coordinate their treatment. This service was established at the initiative of the Israel Cancer Association and it is operated with the support of most hospitals. Women are supported from the time they are diagnosed and receive counseling and direction throughout the treatment and rehabilitation process. Joining one of the professionally led free support groups also helps the coping and healing process. Thanks to all of these and more, many patients return to active, healthy routine lives, and some even join the “Lend a Hand to Healing” project and help others to cope.
Cancer has no territorial boundaries, so every research achievement in Israel is an achievement for the whole world. New methods that have been developed through research are in fact implemented in Israel and around the world. The Israel Cancer Association plays a central role in supporting and promoting research by providing research grants for breast and other types of cancer to researchers in public hospitals and academic institutions. These grants help to advance achievements at the national and international level and recipients are selected by an independent committee of the top researchers. Cancer patients with various types of cancer can also utilize the clinical research data base on the association’s website free of charge.
In light of the significant progress in the human genome project, it is known that genetic factors greatly increase the chances of contracting cancer. Hereditary instances, although only a minority of cases, help to understand how breast cancer develops and to identify women who are at high risk. Thanks to the Israel Cancer Association’s Consortium of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer more patients can decrease their chances of contracting the disease and are properly monitored through public funding.
For brochures and information call the Israel Cancer Association 24 hours a day, free of charge: 1-800-599-995 or go to the website: www.cancer.org.il