Children with cancer at Schneider Hospital Alon Ron 2004
Children suffering from cancer at the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel Photo by Alon Ron
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A new report compiled by the Health Ministry, published Sunday, indicates a sharp increase in cases of cancer among Israeli children.

Currently, 1,392 children under the age of 14 and diagnosed with cancer live in Israel. The report indicates a 30 percent increase in the incidence of cancer among children between the years 2000 and 2008.

More boys have been diagnosed with cancer than girls, as opposed to cancer among adults, and there is no significant difference between the incidence of cancer among Jewish and Arab children in Israel.

"The data indicates that terminal diseases (cancer) in childhood are not affected by environmental elements or lifestyle," said the author of the report, Dr. Micha Barchana, the director of the Israel National Cancer Registry.

However, the rate of recovery from cancer has also risen sharply during the years in question. Among young girls, the recovery rate rose from 89.9 percent in the 1990s to 93.3 percent between 2005 and 2007. Among boys, the recovery rate rose from 91.1 percent in the 1990s to 93.5 percent between 2000 and 2004. A slight drop in recovery rates was noted between 2005 and 2007, and the Health Ministry has yet to come up with a plausible explanation.

"Early detection is less relevant among children," Dr. Barchana said. "New treatments for cancer in children have improved in recent years, and that is the key to the increase in recovery rates."

Five of every six children suffering from cancer recover within 5 years of the initial diagnosis. Cancer is listed as the fourth most common cause of death among children under 14, after fetal disease, congenital defects and accidents.

The most types of cancer among Israeli children are brain and nervous system tumors, Leukemia, non-Hodgkins and Hodgkins lymphoma, kidney cancer, bone cancer and cartilage cancer, in descending order.

In a recent survey, 60 percent of respondents said that they feared cancer more than a heart attack or diabetes. 53 percent had a relative who suffered from cancer, and 35 percent knew someone at work who was diagnosed with cancer.

When asked what they would do if they were diagnosed with cancer, 47 percent of the respondents said that they would tell the families or close friends, 38 percent would tell all their acquaintances and four percent would not tell anyone. 11 percent did not know.

The risk of cancer is currently estimated at a chance of one in three during the course of a lifetime.