Sint Maarten Minister Joins AUC for Community Breast Abnormalities Screening Event
This past weekend, AUC School of Medicine in collaboration with the Positive Foundation and The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor, hosted a successful free breast screening event in Philipsburg. The October 22 event was the second of three events this year, with the final event for 2022 scheduled for November 26.
More than a dozen AUC students under supervision and clinical medicine fellows—Dr. Arie Szeinfeld, Dr. Noemi Jubaer, Dr. Brittany Thompson, and Dr. David Jetha—provided 31 women with general health assessments. Each assessment also included a free clinical breast examination by Dr. Naira Chobanyan, clinical oncologist and professor of clinical medicine at AUC.
Saturday’s event included attendance by the Honorable Omar Ottley, Minister of Public Health, Social Development, and Labor, as well as Dr. Eva Lista-de Weever, head of the Public Health Department. Both Mr. Ottley and Dr. Lista-de Weever attended screening and educational sessions in order to learn about the breast abnormalities screening project and to better understand the burden of disease in Sint Maarten. To date, nearly 500 women have been examined by Dr. Chobanyan and her team of clinical medicine fellows and students.
For AUC medical students and clinical medicine fellows, the event was an opportunity to work side-by-side with patients while practicing clinical and communication skills. Students spent much of their time explaining the signs, symptoms and risk factors of breast cancer, and answering questions about personal breast health and self-care. In addition to the benefits this research brings to the community of Sint Maarten regarding breast awareness and education, clinical fellows and medical students are afforded an opportunity to gain real-world clinical experience. By working with real patients, conducting interviews, and performing an overall health assessment, medical students have the opportunity to enhance their preparedness for clinical rotations.
The breast abnormalities screening project began in 2017 but was placed on a hiatus following Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic. The project seeks to increase public awareness of breast cancer while also collecting much-needed data on the prevalence of breast abnormalities in Sint Maarten residents. Results of the project will be reported to the Ministry of Health to help establish local policies for breast screening.