19 Oct 2009

Need to improve access to medical services in Guam to counter cancer rates

7:20 am on 19 October 2009

The head of the Cancer Research Centre at the University of Guam says alarming new cancer statistics are an indication that local people lack access to medical services.

The University has received 8 million US dollars from the National Institutes of Health to support a national cancer research programme.

This comes as new statistics show male cancer mortality rates on Guam doubled in the ten years to 2007 while they also increased by 73 percent for females.

The Center's director, John Peterson, says many are also uncomfortable with the examinations necessary to diagnose an illness:

"The incidences of cervical cancer for example that are high among Micronesian women are probably because of the sense of shame among Micronesian women when they have access to physical exams and they really don't feel comfortable having private parts of their body examined. So screening is a really, really big area where there can be major improvement, we think."