Recognizing that cutting edge information on environmental health was not included in high school curricula on Long Island, the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition (GNBCC) founded and created the Students & Scientists Breast Cancer/Environment Research Program in 2005.
After attending a number of breast cancer/environment conferences, reading dozens of books and articles and speaking in depth to researchers, we felt it was critical that young people in the next generation learn about the connection between environment and breast health so that they could begin to protect themselves from toxic exposures and educate their peers and members of their community.
This educational program provides high school students with experience working with world-renowned environmental and breast cancer researchers while they learn sophisticated laboratory procedures in a state-of-the-art lab. During this hands-on experience the students learn that ubiquitous toxic exposures are not only creating havoc in our environment, but are also contributing to chronic diseases, including cancer, learning disabilities and neurological diseases. To date, GNBCC has provided 52 high school internships at 10 different laboratories in the Northeast.
Of particular importance to GNBCC is improving the quality of human health. To have the largest impact, this initiative includes expansion by assisting other coalitions to create a student program. In 2007, GNBCC assisted the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) through the development of their program which has since sponsored 25 students at laboratories in the Northeast. We are grateful to HBCAC for connecting our students to the BCERC Conferences which enhanced our program.
The Students & Scientists internship program strengthens scientific literacy while nurturing young men’s and women’s interests in environmental health and breast cancer prevention. Students become the next generation of scientists and protectors of public health and our environment. Many participating students have expressed that our program has changed the direction of their career choices and their lives.
Only lung cancer kills more women each year in the United States than breast cancer does. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that over 184,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in women in 1996 (ACS Breast). Although these statistics are alarming, there are a number of treatment options available for those that are diagnosed with breast cancer.
The best way to treat any disease is to prevent it. Since little is known about breast cancer, there are no established rules for prevention. The ACS recommends that women age twenty and older perform monthly breast self-exams, and it also suggests clinical examinations every three years (ACS Breast). Mammography is also a wonderful tool for detecting tumors; however, there is conflicting data on when and how often women should have mammograms. What is known is that mammography is the best way to determine if a palpable lump is actually cancerous or not.
Treatment methods for breast cancer can be lumped in two major categories; local or systemic. Local treatments are used to destroy or control the cancer cells in a specific area of the body. Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local treatments. Systemic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells anywhere in the body. Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy are considered systemic treatments.
Surgery is the most common treatment for breast cancer. Although there are many different types of breast cancer surgery, they all fit into a few basic categories. An operation that aims to remove most or all of the breast is called a mastectomy. If at all possible, doctors shy away from mastectomies due to the side effects which include loss of strength in the closest arm, swelling of the arm, and limitation of shoulder movement. If a mastectomy must be performed, the physician will often...