Cutting-edge, experimental cancer treatments are not readily accessible to patients on Guam, and those who are suffering from the disease often have to travel to Hawaii or the U.S. mainland to get advanced care.
But new program, which started through a partnership between the FHP Health Center and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, opens opportunities for patients to participate in a clinical trial program designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for cancer.
Virginia McMahon, a visiting consultant from the University of Hawaii provides an overview of the pilot program.
“Through clinical trials, patients are able to access new investigation drugs that they would not have the opportunity to get unless they were on a clinical trial. We have tried to make sure that patients in Hawaii, and now in Guam … that they would have the ability to get the latest treatment without having to go to the mainland. That way they can stay in Hawaii, in Guam with their families and get the support that they need and get the latest treatment available,” McMahon said.
Dr. Samir Ambrale, an oncologist at FHP, said cancer treatment options have evolved in the last decade or so which improved cancer survival rates. He said these new treatments should be made accessible to patients on Guam.
Dr. Samir Ambrale, FHP oncologist, also said there have been a lot of treatments approved within the last ten years, which have changed the life expectancy or survival and the quality of life of patients.
“Since I have been here, I have been working with the University of Hawaii Cancer Center to try to take it to the next step for cancer care for our patients to get them new therapies that are not available otherwise. We have been working for the last three years to develop this partnership. We are excited that we are starting the program here,” Ambrale said.
FHP is hosting a Guam Cancer Clinical Trials Symposium on Sunday, July 14 at the Hotel Nikko Guam. Information on the clinical trial program, including its benefits to healthcare professions and cancer patients, will be available during the event.