Cancer awareness group looking for betel nut chewers

Posted on Sep 05 2016

The Commonwealth Cancer Association is looking for volunteer betel nut chewers to be part of a betel nut intervention trial program in collaboration with the University of Guam Cancer Research Center.

The University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center is UOG’s partner after the National Cancer Institute awarded the partnership with close to $27 million in research grants, money that would fund their various programs until 2020.

CCA program director Juan L. Babauta said their agency will administer the betel nut intervention program in cooperation with UOG through project principal investigator Dr. Yvette C. Paulino, who was on Saipan early this year to present the findings of her study on betel nut chewing.

Dr. Robert A. Underwood and Dr. Rachel T. Leon Guerrero are the general principal investigators of the Cancer Research Grant.

“The betel nut project is a collaborated project with CCA and UOG, which is doing a betel nut intervention trial. The research is similar to the tobacco association program,” said Babauta, in last week’s proclamation signing of the Childhood and Prostate Cancer Month.

“The CCA office will be made the contact point where those who would like to be involved with this program should get in touch with us,” added Babauta.

CCA board vice president Maggie C. Camacho said that a lot of betel nut chewers still do not believe what it can do for them. “There are still a lot of people who do not believe that betel nut chewing can do harm to them. And [betel nut] chewing is very prevalent amongst the youngsters. It is said that it starts from the youngsters.”

“I just get goosebumps whenever I see oral cancer patients. And a lot of them do not believe that it could happen to them. [Oral cancer] is growing to become the No. 2 cancer type in the CNMI.”

That’s why the CCA is asking the Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to finally sign House Bill 19-65 or the act “to prohibit sale of betel nut (areca nut) to any person who is under the age of 18.” The CCA is hoping the community would be more attentive this time to help prevent oral cancer.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) and Vinson E. Sablan (Ind-Saipan), had already passed the House and the Senate.

CCA is a community-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting cancer awareness and prevention, providing patient support services, and serving as the liaison and advocate for cancer issues in the CNMI and the region.

It began as a coalition of volunteers who are committed to reducing the burden of cancer in the islands. These volunteers serve on the CCA board, help raise funds, and participate in training, outreach, and patient support programs.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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