Group of womenHafa Adai! Chamorros are those with ancestry to the indigenous people of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). According to the 2000 census there were 58,240 Guamanian/Chamorros living in the United States. California has the largest population of Guamanians/Chamorros (33,849) outside of Guam and the CNMI, and Southern California is home to 17,885 Guamanians/Chamorros, and represents extremely underserved populations with regards to health and cancer care services (, 2000). The Chamorro people are a very close knit community both on the island and on the mainland. Catholicism is the leading religion among Chamorros, and in California, Eucharist ministers play an active role in community health issues. Ten per cent of Chamorro families in California are below the poverty line, and 20% have less than a high school degree (Tanjasiri, et al. 2008).

The breast is the most common site for cancer among Chamorro women. One study showed that in a given year, only 25% of Chamorro women had a mammogram, and only 27% performed monthly breast self-examinations (BSE), both important practices for early detection (Tanjasiri & Sablan-Santos, 2001). Very little literature may be found on the cancer risks of Chamorro males. However, a 2004 study assessed the colorectal risk factors of 100 Chamorro men in the United States. Although the results indicated that the study sample reported a high rate of health promotion through lifestyle (74.4% were current in their colorectal cancer screenings), the nationwide averages were much lower (Wu, et al., 2004). For Chamorros still living on the CNMI, cancer is the “second leading cause of death” (Tseng et al., 2004).

The Guam Communications Network (GCN) was established in 1993, as a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation. It is the sole community-based multi-service agency serving Chamorros in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and has been a recipient of numerous government and private foundation funding. GCN has a history of fiscal and program management (with an annual budget of nearly $250,000), and operates over twelve different cultural enrichment and social service programs that are designed to encompass cultural promotion and preservation, health and welfare, breast cancer research, senior care management, tobacco education and prevention services, HIV/AIDS education, youth leadership and advocacy development, senior health and welfare, tobacco usage cessation, and free and low cost insurance enrollment application services. GCN employs six Chamorro men and women and has seven volunteers/consultants working as community health workers and lay health workers for these various projects. In addition, GCN has over six years experience in community participatory research collaborative. A recently completed program, “A Network Based Intervention for Chamorros in Southern California,” is a three year community participatory collaborative project, with Sora Park Tanjasiri and California State University, Fullerton, focusing on improving cancer screening rates among Chamorro women in Southern California. Finally GCN has catalyzed the development of several Chamorro groups, including a I Lalahi (Chamorro Men’s Collaborative) and I’Famalao’an (a Chamorro women’s group).

Contact: Lola Sablan-Santos, Executive Director
Guam Communications Network, Inc.
333 H Street, Suite 5000
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Tel: (619) 551-7068
Fax: (619) 551-7001

  • U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder”, <>; retrieved June 16, 2010.
  • Tanjasiri, S. P., Sablan-Santos, L., Merrill, V., Quitugua, L. F. & Kuratani, D. G. (2008). Promoting breast cancer screening among Chamorro women in Southern California. Journal of Cancer Education, 23: 10-17.
  • Tanjasiri, S. P. & Sablan-Santos, L. (2001). Breast cancer screening among Chamorro women in Southern California. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-based Medicine. 10(5):479-485.
  • Tseng, C. W., Omphroy, G., Songsong, J. M. & Shearer, R. (2004). Cancer in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). Journal of Community Health and Clinical Medicine for the Pacific: Pacific Health dialogue, 11(2), 23-29.
  • Wu, P.L., Sadler, G. R., Nguyen,V., Shi, M., Cruz, L. A., Blas, F. G., & Borja, M. R. (2004). Cancer risk factor assessment among Chamorro menin San Diego. Journal of Cancer Education. 19(2):111-116.
  • U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder”, <>; retrieved June 16, 2010.
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