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Israel is winning battle with skin cancer; number of cases drops dramatically in past 5 years

In the past five years, Israel went from number three to 20 on a macabre list of countries with the highest incidents and deaths caused by skin cancer. In terms of mortality, the country dropped to number 13 for men and number 20 for women on the same top. These medical successes were based on a strategy which incorporated an aggressive campaign of awareness, identification of skin cancer and last, but not least, research.

The campaign was started almost five years ago, and it involved, among other things, the use of mundane technologies like smartphone apps and the development of breakthrough immunotherapy drugs like Keytruda.
The research has been spearheaded by the Israel Cancer Association and awareness was improved with basic media promotion.

 “We disseminated our sun-smart stuff in TV programs and in the media. Every summer we launch the early detection project and we encourage people to avoid sun bathing from 10-4,” said Miri Ziv, the Director General of the Israel Cancer Association.

melanomaStatistics say the most common types of skin cancer are, in order fo their prevalence, basal cell carcinoma, followed by squamous cell carcinoma. The least common, but deadliest, is melanoma.

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

The whole key to an improved survival rate has always been early detection. “If you catch (melanoma) early, then it is 100% curable. The whole key to prognosis is the depth of the melanoma itself: the deeper it is, the worse it is,” said Dr. Michael Goldenhersch, a dermatologist in Jerusalem.

Modern technology came into play with the development of DermaCompare, an app released by Emerald Medical Applications. The app used imaging (that is, photos taken by the users themselves and then uploaded) and big data analytics to track and single out suspicious moles. The whole technology behind relies on artificial intelligence to suggest which moles might become dangerous over time.

melanoma2“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,” said Lior Wayn, founder and CEO of DermaCompare.

The third approach are the drugs that fight skin cancer. Two years ago, a new antibody drug called Keytruda was approved by the Federal Drug Agency in the U.S. The drug treats metastatic melanoma and was developed jointly by researchers in the US and Israel. According to them, Keytruda helps the immune system destroy the tumor itself, a therapy often ore effective than chemotherapy.

While recent numbers showed a drastic decrease of skin cancer cases in Israel, the Israel Cancer Association will continue its strategic awareness program in an effort to reduce rates even more.

About The Author

David Nataf started his career as co-founder of Net Development, a leading French web integrators, employing 80 people. After the merger of Net Development with Reef publisher, David joined the law firm, Jean-Pierre Millet, with the defense of computer attackers and victimes specialty ("hackers") in cases between different organizations such as NSA or other members of the international interception 'Echelon' network from the UKUSA treaty or the US Air Force. He is the author of several books on information warfare, consultant for the European Parliament as an expert in computer security (SSI) and electromagnetic signals intelligence (SIGINT). David Nataf successively launched several start-ups of the Internet in the field of paperless technologies termination of contracts online (""); online subscription to early stage fundraising foreshadowing the model will retain more later the platform "", or free roaming mobile operators (MVNO). Given his specialty at the cross road of anti computer crime legal advising, Internet technology, media and anti-propaganda operations, David has naturally become an actor's influence on the Web, working for a think-tank representing french defense and Aerospace. He is architecting crypto farms and masternodes for cryptocurrencies in Asia and Israel technological parks. He graduated in Law from the Faculty of Paris, is a passionate graduated gemologist by Gemological Institute of America "GG", Gemmological Association of Great Britain "Cert-Ga", practical daily triathlon.

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