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A new report by the Health Ministry on skin cancer awareness concludes that there has been a significant rise in targeted melanoma morbidity as a result of programs for early diagnosis of skin cancer that are in place in Israel. Targeted melanoma is cancerous but is located on a specific spot and has not developed any secondary growth or metastasis.

Among Jewish men in 2000 there was a rate of 5.3 new targeted melanoma cases for 100,000 persons. This figure increased by 37 percent, to 7.3 cases per 100,000, by 2008. Among Jewish women the increase in cases of targeted melanoma over the same period has been 43 percent. In 2000 there were 3.9 new cases for 100,000 women, and this rose to 5.6 new cases per 100,000 women in 2000.

The rates of morbidity for metastatic melanoma that is more difficult for treatment and is diagnosed in a third of melanoma patients, have remained stable during the past decade: 13.3 new cases per 100,000 among Jewish men, and 11.7 new cases per 100,000 Jewish women in 2008.

The rate of melanoma cases in the Arab population is as low as 10 percent of that in the Jewish community.

According to data collected by Dr. Lital Keinan-Boker, deputy head of the Israel Center for Disease Control, and Dr. Micha Barhana, who heads the Health Ministry's National Cancer Registry, in 2008 1,330 new patients suffering from some form of melanoma were diagnosed.

Moreover, the Israel Cancer Association stresses that the trend of a rise in melanoma cases is seen throughout the western world. Compared to the West, and on the basis of the International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC ) for 2008, Israel holds the 18th spot for rates of melanoma cases, with Australia and New Zealand topping the list.

According to the Health Ministry's report, the risk of melanoma at some point in a person's life span - from zero to 90 - stands at one per 36 among Jewish men, and one per 45 among Jewish women. In the Arab population the risk is significantly lower: one per 312 Arab men and one per 434 Arab women. The figures are based on statistics on the disease in 2008.

The rates of recovery from melanoma in Israel after five years stand at 84 percent among Jewish men and 87 percent among Jewish women. Mortality rates dropped in the Jewish population during the past decade from 2.42 per 100,000 in 2000 to 2.05 per 100,000 in 2008.

In 2008, 196 Israelis died of melanoma type skin cancer - 116 men, 93 percent of whom were Jews, and 80 women, 90 percent of whom were Jews.

In recent months there have been reports of a breakthrough in the treatment of skin cancer following the approval of a new drug containing the active ingredient of Ipilimumab, which contains antibodies that affect the immune system and improves resistance to metastatic melanoma.

A telephone survey held in 2008 for the department of the Health Ministry charged with health education revealed that more than half the adult population, 54.8 percent, is not exposed to the sun and stays permanently in the shade during the summer.