The number of men suffering from cancer in Israel has dropped in recent years and is now lower than the rate for of women, with newly released data attributing it to a dramatic reduction in colon and prostate cancers.
For the past quarter century, female cancer rates have remained steady at 275 cases per 100,000, with breast cancer constituting a third of those cases, followed by lung and colon cancer, the Haaretz newspaper reported Wednesday.
In men, more than 300 cancer cases per 100,000 were diagnosed around 15 years ago, but since then the rate has declined and continues to do so. It currently stands at 250 per 100,000, with lung, colon and prostate cancer being the most common, the report said citing figures from the Israel Cancer Association.
This downward trend has been noted in other countries such as the US as well.
The figures were issued by the ICA and the Health Ministry in the run-up to a fundraising campaign next week and come from an analysis of cancer data from 1990 to 2014.
Cancer is Israel’s top cause of death.
Lital Keinan-Boker, deputy director of the Israeli Center for Disease Control at the Health Ministry, said the male cancer decline could be explained by the fall in mens’ colon cancer from 43 to 30 cases per 100,000 and in prostate cancer from 80 to 40 diagnoses per 100,000.
“With regard to colon cancer, there is increased awareness, and in 2005 a national program was introduced to screen for occult blood in the stool, with those who tested positive referred for a colonoscopy,” said Keinan-Boker. “We also see a decrease in prostate cancer. In women, however, breast cancer cases have been stable for the past 25 years.”
“When you catch colon cancer in time, when it’s still at the precancerous stage, you remove it and prevent it,” said Siegal Sadetzki, director of the cancer unit at the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research. “With breast cancer, however, when you find it, it’s already there and the hope is to reduce its mortality. Discovering the illness doesn’t reduce the number of cases but improves the chances of treatment and recovery.”
She went on, “When talking about cancer, it’s hard — if not impossible — to attribute the decrease to any specific factor. Cancer is a disease with many variables. Genetics is also a risk factor although it influences very few tumors – five to 10 percent of them. Most of the risk factors involve the environment and lifestyle.”
The ICA’s chairman, Eliezer Robinson, said that while the number of cancer patients has quintupled because of longer life expectancy, aging and population growth, the number of those who recover had gone up nine times.