Breast Cancer Awareness Takes Center Stage at AUC during the Month of October
Despite major strides in early detection and treatment, breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women worldwide. This October, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, AUC students and staff organized numerous events to underscore the ongoing burden of disease.
In Sint Maarten, AUC’s campus was transformed pink. Guest speakers, including cancer survivors, patient advocates, politicians, and clinicians, visited the university every week to speak about their own experiences with the disease.
Beyond the campus walls, students and staff marched alongside more than 600 breast cancer survivors and activists at the annual Sint Maarten Pink Parade and CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Walk for the Cure, which signed on AUC as an official sponsor this year. It was the largest walk in the Sint Maarten bank's history with hundreds taking to the pavement bright and early.
October has also been a time for AUC medical students to engage with the patient community in healthcare settings. Several students shadowed physicians at the Sint Maarten Medical Center and groups of student volunteers joined Dr. Naira Chobanyan, clinical oncologist and Professor of Clinical Medicine at AUC, at free breast screening events in Philipsburg. The screenings, now in their third year, are part of a larger breast health initiative between AUC, the Ministry of Health, and the Positive Foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer while also gathering data on breast abnormality prevalence and driving local screening policies and protocols. More than 70 women were screened during two events in October and nearly 200 women have been since since 2016.
Several AUC alumni have contributed to the Sint Maarten breast screening initiative through AUC’s Clinical Medicine Fellowship. Fellows work with Dr. Chobanyan to manage aspects of the research study and develop educational programs that teach women about breast cancer risk factors and self-exam strategies. Fellows also help oversee student volunteers as they perform baseline health assessments on patients. Recent graduates, Drs. Iyabo Akinsanmi and Monisha Panda, are currently part of the fellowship and will continue to help Dr. Chobanyan into next year.