The President of Israel is the patron of the ICA, which, today is a national organization working in every region of the country - urban and rural - reaching every sector of the population - Jewish and Arab, child and adult.
In 1998, in honor of Israel's Jubilee, the ICA was awarded the prestigious "Presidential Award of Honor" for its voluntaryf activities.
2010 markes the Jubillee of the ICA "Door Knock" Fundraising Campaign, which enlists elementary and high school students from all over Israel, as well as youth movements, to collect funds for ICA Cancer Control activities. This campaign has become a national and educational hallmark of the awareness and promotion of the fight against cancer.
The ICA works steadily in the fight against cancer in Israel. Internationally, it is highly represented and well known in the UICC (International Union against Cancer). ICA's Chairman, Prof. Eliezer Robinson, served as President, and ICA's Director General, Ms. Miri Ziv, was selected in 2008 for the second term to serve as a member of the UICC Board of Directors.
Locally, ICA is represented in the National Oncology Council, and the National Health Council, as wefll by as other noteworthy national committees. The Association's Board of Directors and professional committees consist of top researchers, reputed physicians in their field, patients, and prominent public figures.
Prof. Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate, received, as a young scientist and physician, research fellowships from the ICA and served as a member of its Research Committee for a decade, where he got an up close look at the Association's activity: "Some odd years ago, as a young researcher and physician, I received assistance from the Israel Cancer Association fellowship, and I learned from up close about the significant work that the Association does in promoting research, prevention, early detection, and improving treatment conditions for patients".
Since 2009, Prof. Ciechanover serves as Honorary President of the Israel Cancer Association.
Wherever and however it can, the Israel Cancer Association lends a hand to save lives. With the help and support of dedicated volunteers and generous donors, the ICA works relentlessly "for the patient and against cancer", striving to eradicate the disease.
As a voluntary organization, all of ICA means are derived exclusively from public contributions - with no funding from government budget. This independence enables ICA to operate according to strictly professional criteria, while maintaining a global national point of view and vision.
The ICA works "for the patient and against the disease", and is active on all fronts of cancer control to ensure that the fight against cancer is regarded as a national priority, and concern. Concomitantly, ICA's activities are based on professional considerations.
Moreover, the ICA works closely with the government, the national health care funds, the medical community, the patients, the general public and other related voluntary organizations, to initiate and steer cancer-control projects, to develop and promote innovative research programs and to solicit and distribute resources, beyond those provided by the national budget, to pursue the battle against cancer.
The ICA has taken its place at the helm, initiating and implementing essential long-term, nationwide programs and goals for the benefit of all cancer patients and their families in every sector and in every locale throughout the country.
ICA plays a vital role as an integral part of Israel's medical infrastructure and is heavily involved in every aspect of activity - educating the public, improving and augmenting diagnostic, treatment and care facilities, expanding welfare services and professional training, and supporting the broadest possible base of cancer research.
Presently, prevention is still the most effective way of fighting the disease. Through education and wide-ranging media campaigns, ICA promotes public awareness of the importance of prevention and encourages the public to adopt preventive measures. To this end, ICA conducts media campaigns and distributes hundreds of thousands of educational materials and information pamphlets in a variety of languages to reach all sectors of the population.
Smoking is a leading cause of death in Israel and around the world. ICA places special emphasis on working with different age groups to reduce smoking and its harmful effects. ICA's intense efforts through anti-smoking activities, media campaigns, special events and projects, and lobbying for anti-smoking legislation have proven successful - smoking rates have dropped significantly from 42% in the 80's to 22% today.
Upon ICA's initiative, Israel was among one of the firsft ten countries across the globe that succeeded in enforcing a law forbidding smoking in public places as early as 1983.
ICA "Sunsmart®" program aims to prevent skin cancer among children and adults by addressing the entire population through mass media campaigns, informative brochures and public service announcements. One of ICA's major campaigns "Skin Cancer Awareness Week", first initiated in the early 90's, is carried out in collaboration with the HMO's and the Association of Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons. Held at the beginning of the summer, this service offers thousands of free skin cancer examinations. Skin Cancer Awareness Week has resulted in a tremendous increase in the early diagnoses of melanoma - early detection rates have increased fivefold among men and there has been a marked decrease in the incidence of melanoma among women.
This telephone hotline service is another tool by which ICA offers the public comprehensive information on all aspects of cancer. In addition, the ICA's Resource Center provides assistance in seeking further knowledge via international databases and professional publications - making us Israel's leading source of information in the fight against cancer.
ICA offers its toll free (1-800) hotline in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, and has begun implementing a project to install computer stations in oncology clinics, which will enable direct access to the ICA website.
The major emphasis in all ICA's campaigns is on the importance of early detection. ICA invests tremendous efforts to continually develop and implement new and effective early detection programs.
Breast cancer is Israel's most widespread malignant disease, affecting one in every 8 women. But with early detection, approximately 90% can be cured, and here too, the ICA leads the fight against breast cancer, addressing the disease on all fronts.
The ICA initiated a unique national mammography screening project and through ICA "Invitation to Life" project, together with the Ministry of Health and Health Funds, women in the target age group are personally invited to undergo mammography screening. To date, within the framework of this national program, over 4,000,000 examinations have been carried out. 72% of those diagnosed were in stages 0 and I - early stages of the disease with a very high chance for recovery.
In order to facilitate accessibility for women in the peripheries, ICA purchased a Mobile Mammography Unit, "Michal", which has greatly increased the compliance rate of women undergoing examination in these previously low rate areas. Since the inception of the operation of the Mobile Mammography vehicle significant achievements have been attained.
The WHO survey of the European region in 2009 revealed that Israel leads in mammography compliance rates, while taking into consideration the narrowed gaps between different sectors of the population.
The Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month has led to thousands of calls to the "Telemeida" telephone information service. In response to the ICA's initiative, the Ministry of Health has announced a National Screening campaign and the compliance rates for this screening have been on the rise.
Constantly seeking ways to improve medical care, the ICA funds professional staff tenures in medical centers and communities throughout Israel - oncology nurses, social workers, and psychologists for adults and children; coordinators for breast cancer care for counseling and support; stoma specialist nurses for post-operative patients; speech therapists following laryngectomy; dieticians, and more.
ICA has also established the radiotherapy infrastructure in Israel, in addition to providing training for staff in this field.
With the goal of improving treatment for all patients, the ICA helps train professionals in all oncology-related fields, regularly updating practitioners, granting scholarships for overseas in-service training, arranging seminars and symposia, and purchasing professional literature.
The ICA continually lends a helping hand by building patient care infrastructures; purchasing essential medical equipment and promoting improved and updated methods of treatment.
In recent years, ICA have established and renovated numerous treatment facilities, including oncology departments in hospitals throughout Israel - and ensured that oncology treatment units are relocated from dark basements to sun-drenched hospitals floors, allowing patients to look out on peaceful scenery and injecting a feeling of optimism. Pediatric oncology units have been equipped with activity and recreation rooms and breast care centers established in numerous medical centers.
All donations received are transferred in full (no overheads taken), and hospitals are not allowed to deduct any overhead costs from contributions transferred to them by ICA.
The fight against cancer is a matter of global concern. Each advance in knowledge, like a piece in a huge jigsaw puzzle, brings us one step closer to completing the picture. Recognized as a formidable source of scientific innovation, Israel is an important contributor to this worldwide endeavor.
Today's molecular biologists and genetic engineers work diligently towards the breakthroughs which will lead to tomorrow's treatments. The ICA distributes dozens of grants and fellowships annually to researchers in virtually all of Israel's medical and scientific institutions. As a result of this much-needed support, research achievements with universal implications have been attained.
Thanks to the overall investment that the ICA puts into research, impressive achievements have been attained in treatment for cancer patients, for example - there has been a huge improvement in recovery rates among children who have contracted leukemia and gaps that existed in the past between different children treated for leukemia at various treatment centers have been narrowed; moreover, gaps between Jewish and Arab children, have been completely effaced, and research enabling the implementation of bone marrow transplants in cancer patients and enhanced medicinal treatment has also been achieved. Additionally, diagnostic measures, such as dedicated MRIs for breast cancer, have been developed, and the list goes on and on.
The ICA has established a clinical research database designed for cancer patients and professionals and accessible through ICA's website. Divided according to common types of cancer, the databases are user friendly and enable interested patients to study clinical research relevant to them being undertaken in Israel. The ICA's information center also makes available information about clinical research performed in Europe and the United States.
Throughout its existence, the ICA has worked continuously to make the fight against cancer a national priority - no simple matter in a nation beset by constant threats, economic hardships and social upheaval.
Due to intensive efforts, the ICA has been instrumental in advocating and lobbying for the update and augmentation of the Government's health basket, regarding the inclusion of cancer medications. Consequently, a considerable portion of the additional budget is allocated towards the treatment of cancer patients. ICA is directly active in these kind of struggle, providing scientific information to the committee, together with the Israeli Breast Cancer Coalition - E.D. National Forum, and the Israeli Health Consumers organization.
ICA's intervention has helped patients cut through red tape in their dealings with National Insurance Institute bureaucracy.
The ICA has worked to establish national clinical protocols, while assisting the Ministry of Health to create a national cancer registry and a separate registry for children with cancer by the Pediatric Oncology Society. These valuable resources trace the prevalence of cancer in Israel and provide critical epidemiological information.
For many years, as mentioned above, the ICA has sponsored the implementation of a national treatment protocol for children with leukemia, closing the gap once noted between cure rates among Jewish and Arab children and between children treated in different hospitals. ICA is granting funding for other national protocols for children and for multi-center research in genetic testing of breast and ovarian cancer, which will have significant bearing on future treatment.
Prof. Efrat Levi-Lahad of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital is heading and coordinates the research on cancer genetics consortium in collaboration with 10 genetic centers in medical centers throughout Israel. The research is conducted in conjunction with Prof. Mary Claire King of Washington University, Seattle. Over 660 BRCA1 and BRAC2 gene mutation carriers in Israel and the United States were examined in one of its research. This study appeared in the American Academy of Science prestige publication.
The ICA supports the Consortium activity and also finances software as well as the post of a research data managers who coordinates the activity.
Dedicated to the protection of patients' rights, the ICA serves as an advocate and "watchdog" for improved health services, keeps the public informed, and safeguards its interests, and initiates and promotes legislation to protect and enhance patients' rights.
Among ICA most heartfelt endeavors is work with cancer patients and their families, extending a helping hand at every stage of their confrontation with the disease. ICA initiates and implements welfare and rehabilitation programs, conduct a wide range of special activities, provide supportive home care by trained medical teams, and give financial assistance to the families of needy cancer patients.
This program enlists hundreds of volunteers who have recovered from breast cancer to support women now battling the disease. This organization constitutes an inseparable part of the ICA, operating on a voluntary basis and led by women who have received special training to assist women currently coping with the disease.
The ICA Rehabilitation Department provides counseling and information regarding the effects of cancer treatments.
ICA offers speech therapy programs for laryngectomy patients and rehabilitation support for stoma patients, the services of neuropsycho-oncologists for children being treated for brain cancer, and more.
ICA has played a major role in creating the first hospice in Israel for the terminally ill, to ease their suffering, and ICA operates a home hospice service enabling patients to remain in warm familiar surroundings while receiving round-the-clock professional attention. Today ICA assist in the operation of hospices and home hospices throughout the country.
The Hostel houses patients from outlying areas receiving ambulatory care at central medical centers. Instead of having to make the journey to hospital every day for 6 weeks, patients come to the hostel and are transported to the oncology treatment center, accompanied by volunteers. At the end of the treatment session, they return to the hostel where they receive a hot meal, warm, professional support, and a variety of leisure activities.
This support center for cancer survivors and their families was established through a joint initiative of the Tel Aviv municipality, the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, ICA, Tel Aviv University's School of Social Work, and the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles.
Today it is operated by the ICA. The center aims to reduce feelings of isolation by bringing together survivors and their families and providing them with everything necessary to help them cope with the disease and its implication, by a diverse program that is offered, including lectures, workshops, support groups, healthy cooking, arts and crafts workshops, body and soul activities, yoga, etc.
Today additional centers are operated by the ICA throughout Israel.
In addition to activities offered at the Wellness Community, ICA's new Suzy Rehabilitation and Training Center holds informative seminars for professionals, multi-disciplinary staff.
The ICA offers sexual consultation services provided by Lena Kurtz, an oncology nurse trained in sexuality consultation. These services are offered to all patients who seek consultation on this matter, and who wish to receive information, support and guidance.
This service is free of charge and offers consultation to both individuals and couples. It is offered both in Hebrew and in Russian.Consultation services on body image and sexuality are provided to patients of all ages, including:
The ICA continues to hold workshops for staff that treat cancer patients at medical centers and within the community. These workshops include an overview of attitudes and difficulties, imparting knowledge regarding the impact of the disease and treatments on sexual health, providing tools for basic intervention, which combine exercises according to recognized professional models. The workshops have been conducted at many medical centers in Israel.
The aim of this project, launched in 2008, is to expose cancer patients to the health-related advantages inherent in physical activity, as well as to encourage them to integrate planned and structured activity into their routine and provide them with consultation and professional accompaniment.
The health-related, physical and emotional advantages of physical activity among cancer patients have been researched a great deal in recent years. The various research studies have focused on diverse patient populations such as: bone marrow transplant patients, breast cancer patients, patients who receive chemical or radiation treatment and more.
The professional literature consistently indicates an improvement in fatigue, sleep patterns and in quality (physical and emotional) of life of patients as a result of engagement in physical activity. The project is running by the ICA under the professional guidance of Dr. Na'ama Constantini, an expert on sports medicine, and the ICA Head Nurse Ronit Ovadia is in charge of this program. Each participant receives a booklet, a monitoring booklet, a steps gauge and an elastic exercise band.
ICA has produced and financed this project, in which volunteer cosmeticians visit women with breast cancer hospitalized in oncology wards or receiving treatment in oncology clinics. The patients are given beauty treatment, hair and wig care, and consultation services, all free of charge. This helps to boost their morale, make them feel better, and help them cope with the distressing side effects of the disease and its treatments.
ICA operates a comprehensive network of services and support for children with cancer and their families. Every year, ICA hold dozens of activities for young cancer patients and their families, including family vacation camps, fun days and overseas adventures.
Is a unique travel experience, in memory of Miri Shitrit, for children with advanced-stage cancer to the Orlando's Children Village in the US. This is often the last positive experience that the family shares together.
This project provides tutors to help children with their school studies while they fight their disease, and funds the purchase of computers to enable them to stay in touch with their schools and enjoy games and activities even when they are confined to a bed.
This project is geared to patients in their early 20's - too old for children's programs but still too young for adult ones. It offers recreational trips while training them for future work with other young cancer victims.
Each year ICA organize a special four-day vacation camp for sick children accompanied by their siblings and parents.
This is a unique opportunity to take a well earned break away from the daily struggle with the disease, the tension, and the anxiety that accompanies the difficult treatments. It gives them the chance to spend quality time together as a family, and to enjoy a few days of much needed rest to "recharge their batteries" in order to find renewed strength to cope and carry on with the battle.