Emerging revolution in breast cancer care
21 February 2018
A revolution in clinical oncology is emerging and will significantly impact the personalization of cancer care, according to international cancer expert Dr Shani Paluch-Shimon.
Shani recently visited Australia and addressed a capacity audience at the home of Prof Agi Bankier and Dr Leon Anaf at an event in support of the Australian Friends of Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, Jerusalem.
She is a graduate of Leibler Yavneh College and Monash University. She established and directed a young women’s breast cancer service at Sheba Medical Centre, the first and only service in Israel.
Shani has authored close to 40 scientific papers and international guidelines on breast cancer.
She has now been appointed to establish and direct the new Breast Oncology Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Centre in Jerusalem.
Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women under the age of 45 in the Western world, Shani noted. Breast cancer in young women strikes them at the peak of their careers, their reproductive years and the most active years of family life.
In her new role at Shaare Zedek’s Breast Oncology Unit Shani will be establishing a breast oncology unit that will include a dedicated young women’s program. This service will provide comprehensive multidisciplinary medical care and will focus on fertility preservation and offer genetic counselling and testing.
The issues facing young women diagnosed with breast cancer are especially complex, said Shani. These include the management of breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy, the possibility of pregnancy after breast cancer and the unique psycho-social needs of young women with breast cancer.
Personalized oncology medicine is about personal, holistic care, shei noted. New medical breakthroughs have enabled women to have ovarian tissue removed prior to treatment, frozen and then implanted after receiving the all clear from their medical professionals. They were then able to have healthy pregnancies.
Shani described the new research projects in which she is involved, including studies focusing on genetic mutations in BRCA1/2 which are unique and more common amongst Ashkenazi Jews.
“This places us in a unique position to perform meaningful research in this field,” she said.
Shani is excited about her new role at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre. “Shaare Zedek is a dynamic and growing hospital with a strong culture of clinical excellence and compassion. It has shown that it knows how to build up national centres of excellence and I am looking forward to contributing to an important element of health care.
Shaare Zedek is planning to open a Department of Radiation Oncology as a core component of its new oncology department.
Shani says, “This is a game changer to me and is the difference between a medium sized medical facility and a department that can provide comprehensive cancer care.
“There is a great deal of work to be done. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, yet it has no dedicated, comprehensive breast oncology unit. My aim is to provide a service that women deserve, one that will offer the full range of necessary cancer care.
“This is an exciting opportunity to build something unique and very much needed.”