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Cancer is no longer a death sentence

by Amy Sheldon
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Even after receiving the awful diagnosis, there is cause for optimism because science is increasing early detection and therapy.

Until a few years ago, a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence, but the field of medicine has evolved, and many types of cancer already have effective treatments and tools to help prevent disease. doing.

On the occasion of World Cancer Day, which is celebrated on February 4th, he, head of the Ichilov Hospital Oncology Department, invited Professor Ido Wolf to the “Expert Clinic” studio and asked him what he needed to know about cancer today. I was. And what will our future look like?


“Oncology is considered a very difficult subject, many people can’t even pronounce the words oncology or cancer, and the newspapers always say ‘serious disease’ or ‘complicated condition,'” he said. Professor Wolf says. “But at the end of the day, cancer is just another disease, not the hardest one in my opinion. There are more difficult things. I don’t think bad dementia is easier than cancer.”

Good news

According to him, the most important thing to know about cancer is that “there have been major changes in the field of cancer treatment in recent years. While cancer is declining in number, it is curable. is on the rise, so that’s good news.”

It is important to know that the population is aging and that this is also impacting the incidence of cancer. “Cancer is a disease of old age, and as the population ages, we are seeing more cases of cancer all around us… precisely because life expectancy has increased, more cancer But he stressed that Israel’s statistics were still “excellent.”

Preventive medicine has played a significant role in this decrease in cancer incidence. Since more Israelis are aware of the disease and routinely undergo screenings for the disease, including mammograms or colonoscopies, “cancer is diagnosed earlier and treated better.”

Worth the Suffering

Prof. Wolf also provided a reassuring response to the query on the cost incurred by cancer patients during difficult therapies like chemotherapy.

“First, if you catch it early, you need less treatment. But in other cancers, we’ve been able to do much less harsh combinations, and in some cases, we’re moving from chemotherapy to all kinds of biologic and immunotherapy. , so we are successful.”

Professor Wolf emphasizes that even the more difficult cases are very tough battles, usually over several months. A realistic prognosis for achieving recovery from cancer. ”

“So, while it’s true that it’s going to be a difficult and even very difficult month, the optimistic side is that if you’ve had breast cancer in the past 35 or 40 years old, you would have known this. One cancer, but after a difficult few months, she now knows she can be with her family, her children, and even her grandchildren.

Simple blood test

One of the problems with cancers, especially metastatic and simple cancers, is that they can be difficult to detect and localize, but there have been great strides in this area in recent years.

“Today, there are already blood tests going in this direction, allowing ultra-sensitive tests that can detect very small elements of tumors in the blood and can already detect minimal disease,” said Professor Wolf. I’m here.

“We are currently researching and within 3-5 years we will be able to routinely use these tests and know who has these little things and who does not, so we can better tailor treatment.” Beyond that, within three to five years, we will be testing healthy people, and we will be able to detect cancer with just a blood test.”

Today, we are not there. There is only regular screening that can be done to catch cancer early,” explains Professor Wolf.

He added that the UK has just started researching this very test and that he plans to test hundreds of thousands of people. Probably not too long from now, we’ll all go to the doctor once every few years and say, “Please run a blood test and tell me if it’s cancer.”

He said, “The test is already there. It’s there. I think in 10 years our conversation will be completely different.”

No clear cause

When cancer occurs, most people look for a cause, but they can’t always find it. “When someone has cancer, they try to find the cause of it, and it is natural, and often the cause of cancer is all sorts of things that happen to us. It’s because of what happened.”

However, according to Professor Wolfe, about 5% of cancer cases are the result of genetics and heredity, 30-35% are mutations caused by the environment such as smoking and sun exposure, and about 60% are due to There are other factors that are not clear. Cause.

“When something happens by chance, it’s called bad luck, but in practice, I see a lot of people saying, ‘I was well-behaved, how did this happen?’ The answer is that many of the processes are biological processes, they behave according to mathematical models and they don’t care what we did or didn’t do. It’s important to understand.”

Of course, this understanding should not spoil optimism. As Professor Wolff points out, it reduces the chances of getting cancer and increases the chances of a cure. However, it is important to be able to cope with this diagnosis. Optimism is always scary.

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