State-of-the-art Cancer Treatments In Jerusalem Put Patients At The Forefront

"Patients receive comprehensive care from the first stage of diagnosis with our leading department of breast radiology, followed by surgery, medical oncology, cancer genetics, fertility preservation, psychosocial support, palliative care and survival care." Dr. Shani Paluch-Shimon, director of the Oncology Department of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Paluch-Shimon is a dynamic, active and energetic mother of three young children. At the age of 43, she is the director of the youngest oncology department in Israel, and is dedicated to putting the needs of patients in the hospital's cancer treatment center. She is also an associate editor of the international guidelines on breast cancer of the European Society of Medical Oncology. She is the author of international guidelines on cancer in young women and on the prevention and screening of hereditary cancer syndrome, and is a member of the international consensus panel on metastatic breast cancer.

"Our approach," he explains, "is holistic, based on the needs of patients and takes into account all aspects of their care." Treatment for cancer patients in Shaare Zedek encompasses both the physical treatment of cancer and the assistance to treat the psychological aspects of the disease.

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One of Shaare Zedek's main novelties in cancer treatment is the advanced Institute of Radiotherapy, which is currently under construction. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells in the areas to which they are directed. Some cancers can be cured with radiation therapy alone or in combination with other treatments. Depending on the circumstances, therapy is also used to control cancers, relieve symptoms of the disease or to make other cancer treatments more effective.

"The Institute of Radiotherapy will provide the latest technology in radiotherapy," says Paluch-Shimon, "and will be led by Prof. Ben Korn, an internationally renowned radiation oncologist and leader in the field in Israel. The addition of the radiotherapy center will transform the Oncology Division into a comprehensive cancer center. ”

The new cancer center is the first stage of a master plan and is being built next to what will be a large parking area with 800 spaces. The second stage will consist of the construction of an oncological hospital.

Another aspect in which Shaare Zedek is advancing rapidly is in the area of ​​clinical trials of new drugs. Paluch-Shimon says that the number of clinical trials to evaluate new drugs in development has tripled in the center only in the last year. The great expansion of clinical trials in Shaare Zedek offers oncology patients the opportunity to receive the most recent drugs in development and benefit from the most promising new therapeutic options.

“These clinical trials give our patients the opportunity at all different stages of their disease to access the latest medications that are under development and that could include biological therapies or immunotherapy. These clinical trials give our patients important therapeutic opportunities – and hope. ”

Another way in which oncology patients are placed in the care center is through the hospital's multidisciplinary approach to patient care. "The optimization of cancer care is based on multidisciplinary care," says Paluch-Shimon. “This includes regular staff meetings to discuss new patients and difficult cases within the department. But it also means a dialogue with our colleagues from the other departments to ensure that all aspects of patient care have been taken into account when making appropriate and appropriate decisions for their care. ”

As an example, he cites the field of breast oncology, where weekly meetings are held with the surgeon, radiologist, pathologist and nurses, as well as with social care staff, to address the specific needs and nature of each patient's treatment.

Paluch-Shimon adds that one of the department's objectives is to establish multidisciplinary clinics where patients can see all the medical staff they need on a specific day. "This will make your care more efficient and effective," he says.

Shaare Zedek is also dedicated to addressing the psychological needs of oncology patients. "We have clinical social workers, and we were the first department in the country to have spiritual care workers," says Paluch-Shimon. The spiritual care program, initiated by Prof. Nathan Cherny, director of the Oncology Pain and Palliative Care Unit, provides a personal spiritual space for patients, their families and friends, as well as for the medical staff working with them, and works with all groups of the Israeli population – Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians, among others – and accompanies them on their way to the search for the best spiritual tools appropriate for their individual situations. Cherny is an international palliative care authority and heads an international working group that has developed tools to help regulatory and health authorities and professionals evaluate new cancer therapies.

"In addition, we now have a rapidly expanding psycho-oncology team," says Paluch-Shimon, who in addition to being director of the Oncology Division, directs the hospital's Oncology Program at the hospital and the Talya Center for Young Women with Cancer de Mama, the only center for young women with breast cancer in Israel. The department also has a survival program run by Dr. Na’ama Constantini, an expert in sports medicine, and Dr. Ora Rosengarten, a medical oncologist.

“The program helps women get back on their feet with an exercise program and a program that addresses all their daily needs, returning them to the routine and taking them to a place where they feel good about themselves once they have completed their treatment for breast cancer. " He adds that Shaare Zedek plans to expand this program for other types of cancer.

Paluch-Shimon says that the idea of ​​having a browser / patient case manager is another novelty that has emerged from the Talya Center. “The concept of a patient navigator,” he explains, “is someone – not a doctor or a social worker – who helps navigate and coordinate patient care, especially at the time of diagnosis, when he is completely overwhelmed and is learning a new language. They help organize and coordinate everything patients need, and also guide doctors when we need to bring other types of health professionals to help the patient. They also help the patient prepare before meeting with the oncologist to help him prepare all the questions that are important to him. It really changes the patient's experience. It is very significant. ”

Shaare Zedek oncologists are dedicated to cancer research in several areas. In one of them, the disparities in health and health care between the different groups of society are examined. "We are using the unique demography of Jerusalem," says Paluch-Shimon, "in order to help us further identify health disparities between different communities and identify where the problems are and improve our level of care."

Another important area of ​​research is in the field of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, the two breast cancer susceptibility genes. Women who inherit mutations in these genes have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. This mutation is especially common in Israel, where approximately one in 40 women of Ashkenazi origin (2.5%) is a carrier. Starting next year, the Noga Clinic of the hospital, a multidisciplinary clinic for women who were diagnosed with a mutation in the BRCA genes, will participate in an international study that will test an experimental drug that could reduce their risk of developing cancer mom. In addition, the hospital is participating in another international study that is examining pregnancy after breast cancer.

“Shaare Zedek is the only center in Israel that is active in that study. It has not been done before and it is an international effort. ”

The oncology department of Shaare Zedek, with Dr. Shani Paluch-Shimon at the helm, a cutting-edge Radiotherapy Department underway, the focus on cancer research and clinical trials and, above all, with its care model patient-centered, will continue to provide excellent care to their patients in the coming years.

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