Israel Makes Progress in Fighting Skin Cancer

YERUSHALAYIM -

A multi-track campaign to curb the high incidence of skin cancer in Israel over the past five years has yielded dramatic improvement, according to the Israel Cancer Association.

“We were third in the world in the incidence and mortality after Australia and New Zealand – and it was, of course, because we have a lot of people who come from Europe with light skin,” Miri Ziv, the Director General of the ICA told The Media Line. “In the last five years, Israel has improved to the 20th country with the highest incidence (of skin cancer), and in terms of mortality, we improved to number 13 for men and number 20 for women.”

The ICA-directed campaign focused on awareness, identification and research. New skin care apps such as “DermaCompare” and the availability of immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda have helped bringing down the number of victims.

“Our enemy is the mole,” Lior Wayn, founder and CEO of DermaCompare said. “DermaCompare is based on three layers of suspicion. The first is the idea that we can take the measurement of any mole and we can find something suspicious in the first photo. The second is based on the idea that moles have changed and the common practice is to take photos every six or seven months. The third is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to suggest which moles might be suspicious over time.”

“While there are other apps like this available, we are the only app to have two modules – one for the home user and one for the doctor – and we are the only app that is doing auto comparison instead of manual comparison,” Wayn added.

Keytruda (Pembrolizumab), an immunological therapy which was developed by researchers in the U.S. and Israel, gained FDA approval in 2014 for treatment of metastatic melanoma.

“For stage 4 melanoma, a few years ago, it was a death sentence of one year,” Professor Angel Porgador at Ben Gurion University said. “However, with the combination of immune checkpoint therapy plus targeted chemotherapy, you [now] have nearly a 40 percent survival rate among patients.”