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Population Studies in Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer in Israel

The Department of Community Medicine and Epidemiology (CHS National Cancer Control Center, Carmel Medical Center and B. Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion) is conducting studies, under the auspices of the S. Neaman Institute, aimed at collecting information about the characteristics of cancer morbidity in the various demographic groups of the Israeli population. Cancer usually results from behavioral exposures combined with the genetic background of the individual.

Some 13,000 participants have been enrolled IN THE STUDY thus far, about half are newly diagnosed cancer patients and about half are healthy controls undergoing the same study procedures as the cases. Participants include some 6500 people in the colorectal cancer study, about 5700 in the breast cancer study, 400 participants in the gynecological cancers study and 250 participants in the lung cancer study. Study participants are residents of Northern Israel, in the capture area of Haemek Medical Center in Afula, Western Galilee Medical Center in Naharia and Rambam, Bnei Zion and Carmel Medical Centers in Haifa. All study participants undergo a personal interview in the hospital or at home where they are asked to provide information assessing exposure to a variety of risk and protective factors related to cancer (such as smoking, diet, physical activity, hormone exposure, reproductive history, radiation, family history of cancer and more). In addition, a venous blood sample and tissue samples during operations are collected serving a wide array of molecular tests. The molecular evaluation aids in the genetic characterization of the patients, of the tumors and in identifying high-risk markers. Some 5-10% of the study participants have thus far been identified with gene related disease.

Data resulting from these studies serve as the information infrastructure for policy making in Israel in the field of cancer prevention and early detection. Such data enable focused handling of significant risk factors typical of the Israeli population as a whole, or specific demographic sub-groups. Study results also enable evaluation of cancer survival patterns and their determinants in Israel. The demographic data collected in these studies enables evaluating morbidity and risk factor profiles in different Israeli demographic groups (Jews/Arabs, males/females, Immigrants/veterans and more).

The results of these studies have thus far been published in many articles including in many leading journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature Genetics, American Journal of Human Genetics and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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