As October Breast Cancer Awareness Month came to an end, the Old City walls in Jerusalem were illuminated with pink lights. But Israel’s promotion of breast cancer awareness is not just for show—Israel continues to be a global leader in breast cancer detection, research, and treatment.
A recent Buzzfeed post listed ten ways in which Israel is fighting the battle against breast cancer. The article highlighted Israel’s Octava Pink, the first blood test for breast cancer detection. Octava Pink has a wholly owned R&D subsidiary in Israel with headquarters in Miami, Florida. This diagnostic tool alerts doctors to unusual immune system reactions to the presence of a malignant tumor, supplementing unclear or false-negative imaging results. According to the online news magazine “Israel21c,” the Octava Pink test has achieved “astounding results” in Israel and Italy, will soon be marketed in Europe and Asia, and is currently undergoing clinical trials to receive U.S. FDA approval. If approved, Octava Pink “would be only the second approved Disease is blind and doesn’t differentiate between Jews and Muslims or Israelis and Palestinians.
breast cancer screening test, along with mammography,” to which the company’s president says, “that’s big news!”
Another innovation is led by IceCure Medical (founded and based in Caesarea), which has developed a revolutionary system to treat breast cancer in only 10 minutes by penetrating the tumor and then engulfing it in ice. This renders surgical procedures unnecessary and “does not require reaching past the tumor as is the case in other [cryoablation] devices.”
Breast cancer is said to affect one in seven women in the western world, making the field of breast cancer research vital for millions of women and their families. In Israel, the research is paying off. While Israel ranksfifth in incidence of cancer, it ranks ninth in mortality. This may be due not only to innovative treatments and detection mechanisms, but also to education. The Israel Cancer Association “encourages women to learn their own bodies and watch for changes to catch breast cancer early.”
But a crusade exists that advocates rejecting these life-saving treatments. Those who challenge Israel’s right to exist – singling out the Jewish State, the only democracy in the Middle East, for perceived human rights violations.
Only ignorance and hatred would abide by the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – dismissing such advances in defeating cancer the way other Israeli products are targeted by anti-Israel movements.
Cancer doesn’t care about your religion, race or nationality. Disease is blind and doesn’t differentiate between Jews and Muslims or Israelis and Palestinians.
Arab Israelis surely aren’t boycotting this one. According to the National Breast Cancer Program organizer, 70 percent of Arab women in Israel receive routine mammograms, many from the Israel Cancer Association’s mobile mammography truck that “enables women in more remote locations to access this important service.”
Could you imagine a woman with an inconclusive mammogram refusing the blood test that could detect her cancer? Or a woman who would opt for invasive surgery to remove a tumor rather than undergoing a 10-minute procedure because the technology is Israeli-made and she doesn’t like how the Israeli government protects her citizenry? Of course not!
These Israeli innovations in the fight against breast cancer illustrate Israel’s dedication to women’s health. Octava Pink and IceCure Medical are just two of these innovations that could be a game-changer for women and cancer research. Israel’s success in this field should work as an equalizer, gathering support from everyone who truly cares about women’s health and the fight against cancer.
The writer is a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. She is a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied International Relations and Jewish Studies. Follow her @ellierudee.