FHP Health Center, one of Micronesia’s leading medical clinics located in Guam, will offer the island its first cancer clinical trials program. Guam, a diversified Micronesian society with a unique Chamorro culture and U.S. Territory set in a tropical paradise, will now begin to integrate more deeply into the global oncology based clinical research world.
Guam Cancer Clinical Trials Symposium, hosted by FHP Health Center and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center was recently held at the Nikko Guam. The conference was organized to encourage local health professionals to learn more.
Cancer in Guam
Cancer is the leading cause of death after heart disease on the island. Cancer can show up in high proportions among certain ethnic groups within Guam, according to studies. In a comparison of Guam and Hawaii for incidents of cancer, it was summarized that in Guam, smoking, infectious agents and betel nut chewing appeared to be important contributors to the burden of cancer. Moreover, earlier onset of cancer in Guam points toward earlier age exposure to key risk factors and/or more aggressive pathogenesis. When contrasting Hawaii and Guam, the study’s authors pointed out influences include genes, lifestyle and environmental factors.
Key Principals Involved in the Conference
Dr. Samir Ambrale, of FHP’s Hematology and Medical Oncology department, noted “A clinical trial is a program through the National Cancer Institute that can study a new investigative drug, or treatment, that is not currently available for anybody else that can help patients fight cancer.”
Virginia McMahon, a consultant with the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, noted “The benefit is to have access to a potentially new, investigatory drug. You’re being monitored closely the whole time you’re on a clinical trial,” McMahon said. She continued “There’s always associated risks with that treatment. However, you’re being monitored on a regular basis to capture those side effects.”
Ana Joy Mendez, RN, PhD, University of Guam Cancer Research Center also participated.