Cancer clinical trials will be available in Guam through FHP Health Center


From left, Samir Ambrale, M.D., M.P.H., Hematology-Medical Oncology; Rulieta DeVelles, RN; Jeff Larsen, FHP vice president; Flordeliza Crisostomo, FHP medical assistant; Mariel Nucum, RN; and Dave Torre, FHP senior clinic manager. (Contributed Photo)

TAMUNING, Guam—The National Cancer Institute has approved the addition of FHP Health Center, Guam, to its NCI Community Oncology Research Progra in January 2019. 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.

“When I moved to Guam two years ago, 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, MD., MPH, FHP Health Center NCORP site principal investigator, Guam. “Most (95 percent) cancer care is delivered locally in Guam. Patients are advised about enrollment in cancer clinical trials available in Hawai‘i or the continental U.S. for treatment of advanced cancer, but 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.”

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

“It has been a long-term goal of the UOG Cancer Research Center to facilitate cancer clinical trials here on Guam,” said Rachael T. Leon Guerrero, director of the UOG Cancer Research Center. “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 the some of the most advanced cancer treatments and will contribute to cancer research for populations like ours.”

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

The FHP Health Center, one of Micronesia’s leading medical clinics located in Guam, integrates complete and optimized healthcare under one trusted family brand. Established in 1973, FHP has blossomed to encompass eleven Centers of Care. These centers include Urgent Care, Pediatrics, Adult Medicine, Women’s Health, Occupational Health, Diagnostic Imaging, Home Health, Pharmacy, a Specialty Center (Hematology/Oncology), as well as Dental and Vision Centers. FHP features a roster of highly trained, credentialed, well-known and respected community-based physicians and professional staff. In addition, the center boasts modern technology and equipment that support the entire spectrum of medical services and expertise provided to its patients. Follow Dr Ambrale on Twitter @samirambrale. (PR)

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