Cancer Research Center to facilitate clinical trials for Guam cancer patients
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) approved in January the addition of FHP Health Center, Guam, to its NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). FHP’s affiliation with the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center’s Minority/Underserved NCORP will allow patients in Guam to participate in NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials.
|Dr. Samir Ambrale|
“When I moved to Guam two years ago, I realized that, although efforts had been made in the past to get NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials to Guam, no one had succeeded,” said Dr. Samir Ambrale, FHP Health Center NCORP site principal investigator.
He said 95 percent of cancer care is delivered locally in Guam. And while patients are advised about enrollment in cancer clinical trials available in Hawaii or the continental U.S. for treatment of advanced cancer, they are routinely unable to travel off island for cancer care due to financial reasons and lack of social support.
“The new affiliation with the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center NCORP program will allow for cancer patients in Guam to have access locally to the latest treatments through cancer clinical trials. Research has shown that clinical trials are crucial to improving quality of cancer care,” Ambrale said.
Rachael T. Leon Guerrero, director of the UOG Cancer Research Center, said it has been a long-term goal of the UOG Cancer Research Center to facilitate cancer clinical trials in Guam.
|Rachael T. Leon Guerrero|
"Through UOG's partnership with the UH Cancer Center and the addition of the FHP Health Center to NCORP, our community will now have access to some of the most advanced cancer treatments and will contribute to cancer research for populations like ours," she said.
Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asians represent a small fraction of patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials nationwide, said Dr. Jeffrey Berenberg, UH Cancer Center’s Hawai‘i Minority/Underserved NCORP principal investigator.
“The inclusion of Guam to NCORP will increase accruals of underrepresented populations including ethnic minorities and rural residents,” he said. “There is a great need to introduce cancer control, prevention, and cancer care delivery research trials to Guam given the heterogeneous population, geographic location, unique cultural practices, and diet.”
The majority — 81 percent — of Guam’s population consists of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Asians. During the period of 2008–2012, 1,904 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Guam and 736 residents lost their life to cancer.
“We are delighted to be partnered with the UH Cancer Center and are committed to
providing novel cancer therapies and treatments to our island residents,” said Jeffrey Larsen, vice president of the FHP Health Center.
Dr. Randall Holcombe, director of the UH Cancer Center, said, “Researchers at the UH Cancer Center, FHP Health Center, and the University of Guam have been working diligently for months to complete requirements for joining the NCORP. The addition of FHP Health Center to NCORP’s list of sites has been possible due to collaborative efforts to elevate the level of cancer care, increase the availability of new treatments, and help eliminate cancer-related disparities in the region.”