The ICA announces 2021 Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection Awareness Week on June 8-14, during which hundreds of skin check-up stations will provide free of charge screenings across Israel, in collaboration with Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet and Leumit healthcare HMOs. This is the 29th year of the unique campaign initiated by the ICA, inviting the general public to a free early detection screening for skin cancer. The check-up stations are manned by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, who will administer the skin cancer and melanoma early detection examinations that can save lives.
Each year, Awareness Week is held in collaboration with Clalit, Maccabi, Meuhedet and Leumit healthcare HMOs, providing free of charge screenings across the country.
Melanoma of the skin is a growth that develops in the melanin cells of the skin. The main risk factors for developing skin melanoma are exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight (or tanning lamps and beds); a history of sunburns, mainly in childhood; multiple moles; light skin and eyes; a family history of the disease, a personal history of the disease, a compromised immune system; advanced age; gender (male), certain genetic diseases and more.
According to Moshe Bar-Haim, ICA Director General: “In early June, the recommendations to lift the Green Pass and Purple Badge COVID-19 restrictions were published. And so after a year in which we hardly spent time outdoors, everyone is back at the beach, nature and open spaces, right at the hottest season. It’s important reiterate that uncontrolled exposure to the sun can happen anywhere, not just at the beach or the pool. Even at the playground, during a stroll in nature or roaming street stores - uncontrolled exposure may lead to health damages. We call upon the public, in all ages, to adopt Sunsmart® behavior and stay protected against the dangers of UV radiation in order to minimize your risk of skin cancer.
Prof. Lital Keinan-Boker, Director of the Israel Center for Disease Control (ICDC) of the Ministry of Health, explained: "The trends for in-situ skin melanoma in Jews and “others” during 1996-2018 in Israel show a distinct increase in both sexes, in part (men) or in the entire period (women), which indicates an increase in early detection of the disease. This increase in early detection of skin cancer has been made possible to a large degree thanks to the extensive and rigorous activity of the ICA, who has begun a targeted activity for skin cancer early detection since the 90’s.”
The National Registry, the Israel Center for Disease Control (ICDC) of the Ministry of Health along with the ICA, presented the latest statistics as of 2018, prepared by Dr. Barbara Silverman, Mrs. Maya Benlessen, Mrs. Rita Dachtiar and Prof. Lital Keinan-Boker, as follows:
In 2018, 1,959 new patients were diagnosed with skin melanoma in Israel (1,111 with invasive tumor and 848 in-situ.) That year, skin melanoma comprised 7.5% of all new cancer cases in Jewish men in Israel (as entered by the National Cancer Registry), 5.6% in Jewish and Other women, 1.2% in Arab men and 0.9% in Arab women.
Among the 81% of all patients diagnosed with skin melanoma in 2018, 93.1% were diagnosed with very early stage of the disease, which improves the chances of recovery: 53.2% were diagnosed in-situ, which is a very early stage in which the tumor has not yet penetrated the epidermis, allowing for higher rates of recovery, and 39.9% were diagnosed with localized tumor, which is invasive and deviates from the skin epidermis, with minimal localized spreading. Invasive tumor with localized spreading was diagnosed in 4.6% of the patients, and an additional 2.3% with metastasized tumor.
Of all patients diagnosed with skin melanoma in 2018, 98% were Jewish and others. Skin melanoma in-situ is very rare among the Arab population in Israel, with only a few news cases diagnosed each year. In 2018, incidence rates amongst this population group was 0.9 in men and 0.5 in women. Due to the low and unstable rates in the Arab population, the remaining incidence statistics will be presented for Jewish and Other populations only.
The average age during diagnosis was 66.2 in Jewish and other men and 61.1 in Jewish and other women.
The age-specific average for invasive skin melanoma was higher in men compared to women ages 50+, and the highest morbidity rates were seen in the 75+ age group.
In Jews and Others, the risk of malignant skin melanoma throughout life, that is, 1.6% of every 100 Jews living in Israel or 1:62, are at risk of developing malignant skin cancer during their lifetime (over 80 years).
Findings show that between 1996-2013, morbidity rates amongst Jewish and other men were at a moderate, yet statistically clear rise of 1% annual average. From 2013-2018, a downward trend has been seen, though not statistically. Morbidity rates amongst women have been stable throughout the period.
From the second half of the 1990's, invasive skin melanoma incidence rates in men have been higher than in women.
In Jews and Others diagnosed between 1997-2001, the relative five-year survival rate was 84% in men and 87% in women. For those diagnosed between 2002-2006, the relative five-year survival rate increased to 87% in men and 90% in women.
In 2018, 186 people died of invasive skin melanoma in Israel. Skin melanoma caused 1.6% of all cancer mortality in Israel that year. Most of the patients who dies of skin melanoma in 2018 were 75+. No one was under the age of 25. The average age upon death of skin cancer in Jews and Others was 73.1 in men and 75.2 in women.
The temporal trends of skin melanoma mortality during 1996-2018 amongst Jews and Others showed a stable trend in men throughout the period, while a clear decrease (approx. 2% annual average) was shown in women. Amongst Jews and Others, mortality was higher in men compared to women.
According to Globocan data of the International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization (WHO), some of which is based on estimation and not measurement, 324,635 new cases of skin melanoma were diagnosed around the world in 2020, and 57,043 died of it. The highest incidence rates (the age standardized rate per 100,000) were reported in Australia (36.6) and New Zealand (33.3 in). In 2020, Israel is ranked 22 (incidence rate: 10.3) amongst the 30 countries with the highest incidence rates in the world.
The highest mortality rates (the age standardized rate per 100,000) were reported in New Zealand (4.7) and Norway (3.2). Israel is ranked last amongst the 30 countries with the highest mortality rates.
It is important to remember that in the 1990's, Israel was ranked 3rd after Australia and New Zealand in the annual number of new cases of skin melanoma. Thanks to the ICA's rigorous, consistent activity, there has been a dramatic change for the better, and nowadays, Israel is ranked 22 out of the 30 countries with the highest mortality rates in the world.
Each year, thousands of Basal cell (BCC) and Squamous cell (SCC) carcinoma cases are diagnosed in Israel.
These are the most prevalent types of skin cancer, of which BCC comprised about 80% of non-melanoma skin cancer cases, and SCC comprises the remaining 20%. In most cases, with proper treatment, patients will reach full recovery. In other, more aggressive cases, cells may spread if no treatment is given, hence the importance of early detection.
Who is at risk for skin cancer?
Guidelines for proper application of sunscreen
Ahead of 2021 Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection Awareness Week, the ICA launched a new information campaign titled: "Changes", which emphasizes the five signs one must pay attention to with beauty marks or moles that undergo changes in height, color, size, border and geometry, and see a dermatologist accordingly. The campaign underlines the importance of early detection that increases recovery rates, and urges the public to get a free check up at the healthcare clinics. The campaign aired on TV, social medial and digital platforms, and newspaper ads in Hebrew and Arabic. The campaign was produced on a voluntary basis by Gitam BBDO advertising agency.
As every year, this year too, the Israel Cancer Association acts to promote Sunsmart® behavior from early age. The kits are designed for kindergarten children (age 5 and up) and contain coloring books, Sunsmart® stickers, banners and pamphlets for the parents. In recent weeks, more than 7,000 kits were sent to out via special delivery. All kits were especially produced for the ICA thanks to public contributions and with no government funding whatsoever.