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Cancer Screening Programs at Sourasky Medical Center’s Cancer Prevention Center in Tel-Aviv

Author: Ziv Raviv, PhD

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the World. Major efforts are devoted for its eradication. There are several strategies to fighting cancer. Considerable research efforts were allocated over the last 50 years to elucidate the genetic factors causing cancer and the molecular mechanisms governing its biology for the purpose of developing anti-cancer treatments. It is important to note that cancer is a disease that environmental and life style factors play crucial role in its development.

It is accepted in the Medical community that the earlier the cancer has being detected, the greater are the odds for better prognosis and often the attainment of complete remission. Thus, it is important that more efforts should be addressed into prevention and early detection programs. Several medical centers and research institutes have set up prevention programs, among them is the integrated cancer prevention center (ICPC) of Tel-Aviv Sourasky medical center (TASMC) directed by Prof. Nadir Arber. A comprehensive cancer screening is applied by specialist physicians aimed at identification of potential cancer patients. The Screening program is supported by an integrated research laboratory, that develops and implements innovative technologies and approaches for early detection and therapy of cancer.

ICPC program is considered to be unique in the World. The Screening involves a comprehensive examination, on the spot, for the early detection of at least 11 different most common cancers taking advantage of up-to-date contemporary as well as innovative tests, which are carried out under the same roof and require a single visit taking only few hours, where results are given within few weeks. That is instead of doing separate examinations for the detection of each cancer type, a process when performed through the ordinary health care pathway could consume much of the patient time and involves several bureaucratic levels.

The cancers being tested for by the center include among others:

  • Skin
  • Colon
  • Breast
  • Lung
  • Ovarian
  • Prostate

Respectively, the screenings performed include careful body and skin examination, imaging, blood tests for cancer markers accompanied with standard clinical tests, as well as personal interview evaluating the family history and risk factors of the client. However, it is important to note that the ICPC is not restricted only to patients with known family history of cancer incidents and/or with high risk factors, rather, ICPC is providing its services to any person whom would like to be examined if having cancer. The goal of ICPC is indeed to create the atmosphere among the general public to give attitude to this screening as it is a standard process of body checkup that should be performed periodically on a regular basis. The visit at ICPC clinic consumes relatively small effort from the patient in terms of time and costs. In addition, the persons arriving to ICPC are receiving dietary as well as life style counseling. If cancer or a pre-cancerous condition is been discovered, the client is being referred for further evaluation of treatment options. Personalized approach is applied that includes performing a personal questionnaire and interview before screening as mentioned above, as well as ongoing documentation and follow-ups that are initiated after the results are obtained and shared with the patient.

The cost of this sequence of checkups and tests is seemingly expensive, and there is an impression that this is a “rich people only clinic”, too expensive for the average pocket. Yet, when thinking carefully the costs are rather low, only few hundreds of American dollars, a price which is definitely low comparing to the costs of some of these tests, and as Prof. Arber stated: “the cost is not higher than that one pays for his annual car service, so why not giving the same attention to your own body as given to your car.” The fees being paid by the patients for the screening and genetic testing are not covering the costs. However, in the long run, it is believed that this approach is worthwhile if taking in consideration the costs benefits of cancer early detection, of reducing hospitalization days and medicines prescription. Therefore, a governmental intervention should take place in the form of subsidizing the costs of the cancer screening. In addition, the various health care insurance plans should cover at least in part the fees required to be paid by the patient for this screening, thus, making the visit to the cancer prevention center affordable to every citizen.

ICPC reported that, around 10 percent of people following the screening protocol, were found to be carrying premature tumors, emphasizing the importance of the existence of such a preventive center. Now it is remained to evaluate if the program is being accepted broadly by the general public. PR is needed in order to support public awareness to this program. It is important to note that aside from rising public responsiveness for the existence of ICPC, overcoming psychological barriers is another issue that requires attention on as many people do not like to “know what the future holds” especially when it comes to diseases.

ICPC, a cancer prevention center located within a major hospital, integrates specialized medical doctors with state of the art facilities, performing comprehensive tests for cancer detection in an intensive one-day visit, is unique and very important for performing a good cancer prevention program. The ICPC and other similar prevention centers (see references) should give example for other medical centers around the globe willing to adopt the approach of cancer prevention in the ongoing battle against cancer. The more centers as such will exist, the greater are the chances for early Cancer detection and increase the potential of significantly reducing the rate of cancer incidences worldwide.

REFERENCES:

http://www.tasmc.org.il/sites/en/internalmed/ICPC/Pages/ICPC.aspx

MD Anderson Cancer Prevention Center

St. Joseph Hospital cancer programs Related article on this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, include the following:

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2013/03/07/the-importance-of-cancer-prevention-programs-new-perceptions-for-fighting-cancer/

 

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