People standing in front of a F H P sign
The UH Cancer Center Minority/Underserved NCORP team visited FHP Health Center in Guam. Back from left, Munirih Taafaki, Samir Ambrale, Jeff Larsen and Dave Torre. Front from left, Isobel Webster, Charles Rosser, Jeffrey Berenberg, Gerry Patricio and Josette Baza.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) approved the addition of a health center in Guam to its NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) in January 2019. The FHP Health Center’s affiliation with the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s Minority Underserved NCORP will allow patients in Guam to participate in NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials.

“Currently, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Asians represent a small fraction of patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials nationwide,” said Jeffrey Berenberg, UH Cancer Center Hawaiʻi minority/underserved NCORP principal investigator. “The inclusion of Guam to NCORP will increase accruals of underrepresented populations including ethnic minorities and rural residents. 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.”

“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 Samir Ambrale, FHP Health Center NCORP site principal investigator. “Most (95 percent) of the cancer care is delivered locally in Guam. Patients are advised about enrollment in cancer clinical trials available in Hawaiʻi or the continental U.S. for treatment of advanced cancer, but are routinely unable to travel for cancer care due to financial reasons and lack of social support. The new affiliation with the UH Cancer Center NCORP program will allow for cancer patients in Guam to have access locally to the latest treatments through cancer clinical trials.”

The majority of Guam’s population (81 percent) consists of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Asians. During the period 2008–2012, 1,904 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in Guam, and 736 residents lost their life to cancer. Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. It is located approximately 3,950 miles west of the Hawaiian Islands. The residents of Guam are U.S. nationals.

“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,” said Randall Holcombe, UH Cancer Center director. “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.”

      

“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, FHP Health Center vice president.