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Cancer Risk Factors and Pathology

Cancer Pathology At Sheba Medical Center

Although cancer can certainly be insidious, constant research and education has provided a great deal of knowledge regarding prevention, symptoms, and risk factors. Some of this information is presented below:

medical research

Cancer Risk Factors

While cancer cannot always be predicted, there are some important risk factors to be aware of. Some of these components can be mediated while others cannot. Regardless, it is important to always be vigilant and on the lookout, especially for people with any of these risk factors.

There are risk factors:


Some types of cancer are more likely to afflict certain age groups. In general, the risk for cancer increases with age. For example, the average age for a breast cancer diagnosis is 61, prostate cancer at 66, and 70 for lung cancer. This does not mean that young people are immune, however. Everyone should be on the lookout for cancer and receive screenings at recommended intervals

Family History

The large majority of cancers have a hereditary component. Having a relative with cancer typically increases one’s chance of a similar cancer diagnosis. This is particularly true for cancers such as breast and colorectal cancer

Obesity And Poor Diet

There appears to be a strong link between obesity and the risk of developing cancer. The same can be said for diet. A diet rich in fat and carbohydrates may lead to a higher risk of cancer.

Tobacco Use

There is no doubt that smoking contributes heavily to lung cancer. The good news is that ceasing tobacco use will reduce the chance of developing lung cancer in the future. Smokeless tobacco is not a good alternative to smoking as it can cause oral and esophageal cancers.

Personal Medical History:

Certain inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s colitis, can put a person at increased risk of a cancer diagnosis in the future. Individuals with such diseases should be monitored closely for signs of cancer. Other personal medical factors, such as infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), may also lead to a higher cancer risk.


Although not all incidents of cancer can currently be prevented, there is still a lot a person can do to reduce their risk. These measures include:

  • Eating Healthy and Maintaining a Normal Weight – A good diet, regular aerobic exercise, and preserving a normal weight all contribute to a lower cancer risk
  • Stop Smoking – Any form of tobacco use greatly increases the likelihood of a cancer diagnosis.
  • HPV Vaccine – The HPV vaccine can help prevent cervical cancer in women and even certain cancers in men.
  • Regular Screenings – Regular cancer screenings in the form of procedures such as mammograms, prostate examinations, and colonoscopies, among others, can lead to early detection, and thus treatment, of several forms of cancer.


Cancer symptoms differ among the various types of cancer, but there are some general signs to be on watch for:

  • Pain – particularly severe and/or long term pain with no apparent injury or trauma.
  • Excessive Fatigue
  • Unexplained Fevers
  • Unexplained or Rapid Weight Loss.
  • Lumps or Nodes beneath the Skin
  • Moles, Marks, and Blemishes – moles and skin markings may be a sign of skin cancer, especially if they change color or grow in size over time.

Sheba Medical Center Department Of Pathology

Rapid and accurate diagnosis is absolutely critical for achieving the best outcomes in cancer treatment. In our quest to offer world-class medicine with a personal touch, Sheba Medical Center provides the latest in technology and research with a truly massive amount of diagnostic tools and staff expertise. This ensures that our patients receive correct and timely diagnoses and quality, tailor-made medicine for their unique needs. Some of these resources are discussed below.

The Sheba Cancer Research Center (SCRC)

The SCRC engages in continuous research into new and existing cancer treatments and research, including preclinical investigations. The goal of the SCRC is to be on the cutting edge of cancer research in order to bring benefits to our patients. Advanced technologies used by the SCRC include gene sequencing, stem cell therapeutics, bioinformatics, microarrays, and molecular cytogenetics.

The SCRC also contains the Gidi Rechavi Lab, tasked with investigating the role of genetic mechanisms involved in gene expression and especially the role of those mechanisms in cancer and its prevention and treatment. Research here is not limited to the laboratory, but instead also occurs bedside with our patients so that they may fully reap the benefits.

Advanced Technologies

Within Sheba Medical Center, we have numerous tools and expert staff in advanced technologies in order to provide our patients with the most accurate tests and assements for their disease. These include:

High Tech Cytogenetic Testing

  • Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) for chromosome detection and analysis.
  • Spectral Karyotyping (SKY) to perform special analysis of chromosomes.
  • DNA Sequencing
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Microarray for analysis of gene expression.
  • Advanced Microscopy
  • Institutional Tissue Bank (ITB) for vast biospecimen availability.

Diagnostic Imaging

Ever since the discovery of x-rays, diagnostic imaging has been a crucial tool for accurate medical diagnoses. Recent advances have provided more detail and accuracy than ever before. Sheba Medical Center is at the forefront of diagnostic imaging and possesses a large variety of imaging devices and techniques. In fact, the Diagnostic Imaging Department is the largest in Israel and performs almost half a million imaging procedures every year.

Some of our assets include:

  • Four of the latest MRI scanners.
  • Five multislice CT scanners, providing unparelled definition and detail of the human body.
  • Two digital mammography systems.
  • Six digital fluoroscopy suites.
  • Ten ultrasound scanners.
  • Three digital radiography systems.


Iris Barshack, MD
The director of the Department of Pathology.
Dr. Barshack earned her MD from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and currently serves as the Associate Dean and Head of the Medical School for the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

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