Technology helping Israel cure cancer in children

Dr Gal Goldstein

Dr Gal Goldstein, the  Director Pediatric Hermatology and Oncology at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem.

Photo credit: Amina Wako | Nation Media Group

In Jerusalem, Israel

The survival rate of children with cancer in Israel is at 85-90 percent thanks to technology.

Speaking to journalists from Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia, Dr Gal Goldstein, Director Pediatric Hermatology and Oncology at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, attributes the success rate to improved genomics.

According to him, genomics allowed doctors to better understand the interactions between genes and the environment, and provide a more precise diagnosis.

“Other than genomics, the other reason why the survival rate is high is due to better diagnostic tools that allow doctors to get a better view into how patients are responding to treatments and improves their ability to provide personalized care,” said Dr Goldstein.

In Kenya, the survival rate among children with cancer is below 30 percent with the country losing eight in every 10 children under cancer treatment.

The low rate has been attributed to the challenges in the local medical field including high cost of drugs, poor infrastructure, shortage of skilled personnel, lack of proper community awareness and late diagnosis.

In Israel, the plan is to increase the survival rate to 100 percent by 2040 through the development of several new drugs and drug combinations.

With the success rate high, the country is now working on how to lower the toxicity of treatments and make them more precise.

Several recent studies have shown that while the cancer is cured, childhood cancer survivors are not necessarily healthy.

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a large percentage of 1,700 people ages 18 to 60 who were treated with chemotherapy, radiation or both, had problems later on.

These included hearing loss (62 percent), abnormal cholesterol levels (61 percent), male infertility (66 percent), hormonal dysfunction (61 percent) and abnormal lung function (65 percent), among other complications.