More than 20 Women Screened for Breast Abnormalities at First Community Screening Event of 2018

Dr. Naira Chobanyan leads AUC students and fellows on a mission to empower and education women about breast cancer


AUC held its first community breast screening event in Philipsburg on Saturday October 27, just weeks after announcing the relaunch of this important breast health program. The program is a collaboration between AUC, the Positive Foundation, and the Sint Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor, to educate the community about breast cancer while also empowering women with strategies to proactively monitor their health. Program organizers are able to accomplish this through free community health screenings and educational sessions about breast cancer symptoms and risk factors.

The program began in 2017 but went on hiatus for the majority of the year due to Hurricane Irma. Now, with the support of Dr. Naira Chobanyan, Professor of Clinical Medicine at AUC, it’s back with three more events scheduled over the next month.

Saturday’s event drew a crowd of 25 people. As patients entered the Vineyard Building, they were welcomed by a team of AUC medical students and Clinical Medicine Fellows. Dr. Chobanyan screened patients for breast abnormalities while students and fellows conducted health assessments, led patients through breast cancer screening questionnaires, and provided overall education on breast cancer risk factors and signs of abnormalities.

Dr. Crystal Golding, Clinical Medicine Fellow at AUC and one of the event coordinators, sees the project as a mutually beneficial program for AUC students and community members.

“I love how this program gives medical students a chance to take a proper history and communicate with patients about the risks of breast cancer,” she said. “Meanwhile, patients and the general community benefit by learning from our medical students. And for me as a Clinical Medicine Fellow, I’m able to sharpen my teaching techniques and leadership skills. There are a lot of moving pieces to get to the final goal of finding the prevalence of breast abnormalities in St. Maarten, and it’s a very exciting and groundbreaking process.” 

Information provided at the screenings is vital to helping the public understand the prevalence of breast abnormalities within the population of Sint Maarten. The clinical breast examinations performed by Dr. Chobanyan can be shared, if desired, with the patient’s primary care provider. All results will eventually be reported to the Ministry of Health in order to help establish policies for the screening of breast abnormalities and cancer.

Any students interested in participating in Dr. Chobanyan’s breast abnormalities research should contact Dr. Crystal Golding at cgolding@aucmed.edu for more information.