Breast cancer survival rates are on the rise, according to Health Ministry figures presented at a press conference organized by the Israel Cancer Association in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Survival chances today are 87%, and 79% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 50.
A total of 4,487 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and 963 died of the disease. There are 14,493 women living in Israel today who were diagnosed with breast cancer from 2006 to 2010.
The survival rate for five years from the moment the disease is detected has gone up in recent years. The percentage of women who survived the disease for at least five years from 2006 to 2010 was 87%, compared to 79.1% from 1991 to 1995.
Women in the Jewish sector are more exposed to the disease than women in the Arab sector in all age groups, except in the younger ages where the rate is similar. The early detection rate was 62% from 2009 to 2010, a 3% increase from 2006 to 2007.
Diagnosis rate 70% lower among haredi women
The Israel Cancer Association also presented a study showing that ultra-Orthodox women are less exposed to breast cancer than secular women. In fact, the research revealed that the rate of haredi women diagnosed with breast cancer was 70% lower than secular women.
The study was based on a sample of 1,500 women diagnosed with the disease from 2006 to 2007 and on national figures.
The research, conducted by Dr. Dorit Isaac under the guidance of Prof. Siegal Sadetzki, director of the Cancer and Radiation Epidemiology Unit at the Gertner Institute, further revealed that the rate of getting mammography screening was similar among haredi and secular women diagnosed with breast cancer in the in the 50-74 age group, while in the past fewer haredi women had agreed to undergo the screening.
In total, 88% of female patients underwent mammography screening in accordance with the Health Ministry's recommendations.
Although they are less exposed to the disease, it is usually more difficult among haredi women. These women are generally detected at a later stage, leading to lower survival rates, more aggressive tumors and higher chances of cancer recurrence.
"Haredi women are characterized by a different lifestyle compared to secular women," explained Prof. Sadetzki. "They start giving birth at an earlier age and have more children, and so the breast cancer which develops in their body is on a different hormonal background, and therefore they are less exposed to the disease but also suffer from a more aggressive cancer."
Breast cancer: Israel 4th in world
Israel ranks fourth in the world in breast cancer cases with 96.8 patients per 100,000 population, while the OECD average is 71.6 per 100,000 population. In breast cancer deaths, Israel ranks fifth with 25 cases per 100,000 (down from 29.4 per 100,000 in 2000), compared to 19.8 cases per 100,000 among OECD countries (22.9 per 100,000 in 2000).
During the press conference, the Cancer Association presented troubling figures in regards to pancreatic cancer. In 2010, 809 new patients were diagnosed and 810 died of the disease.
"Pancreatic cancer cannot be detected early, and its risk factors are unknown," explained Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, deputy director at the Israel Center for Disease Control. "That’s why patients are detected at a late stage and only about 6% survive for five years."
The average age for pancreatic cancer mortality is 72.6 for men and 74.6 for women, and it is the fourth cause of death of all types of cancer.