Expert Q&A: Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation Executive Director Hayley Dinerman
Today is Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day, so we took a few moments to chat with TNBC Foundation Executive Director Hayley Dinerman about why TNBC deserves special focus, the latest progress on the research front, and how to get involved with the cause.
TheBreastCancer Site: Why devote a day to TNBC in particular?
Hayley Dinerman: We wanted to give our community a strong voice and to shine a light on this particular form of breast cancer. Although it accounts for up to 20% of breast cancer cases, TNBC gets lost in the mix during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Most people are still unaware that breast cancer is not a single disease. In fact, there are many different types of breast cancer, and the type of breast cancer with which a woman is diagnosed affects both prognosis and treatment options. TNBC Day is more than a national day of awareness. It is also a day where communities throughout the country organize incredible grassroots fundraising events to help support triple negative specific research and programming. The funds raised last year through TNBC Day helped the foundation fund numerous research projects and expand the programs and services we offer to the many women living with triple negative breast cancer.
BCS: How does BRCA and the decision to be tested factor in here?
HD: Triple negative breast cancer occurs more often in women with BRCA1 mutations. Regular breast cancer screening is important for all women, but even more so for those with BRCA mutations because they have a higher risk of developing breast cancer in general. Knowing your status can result in earlier intervention and improved treatment strategies.
BCS: Are there any notable breakthroughs or research projects in-progress that offer hope for patients diagnosed with TNBC?
HD: We’ve come a long way in the past few years, though not as far as we would like. The immediate goal, of course, is to find specific, targeted treatments for TNBC. That said, research is ongoing with a number of clinical trials looking for new targets in TNBC, in addition to trials that are testing new treatments. We now know that there are at least six different subtypes of TNBC, each with unique characteristics. This knowledge is leading to the development of more specific treatment options for patients. TNBC Foundation-funded research is examining a new drug that targets a “death receptor” in TNBC cells. We are also excited about another co-funded project that focuses on reprogramming nonfunctioning genes in TNBC cells to make them more responsive to hormonal therapy and reduce their ability to metastasize.
BCS: How can people help most efficiently?
HD: It’s not too late to support TNBC Day! Grassroots fundraising and awareness raising efforts will be taking place throughout the month of March. Registering an event online takes just minutes, but helps to spread the word about triple negative breast cancer and to raise funds that will be used to fund research and programs specifically benefitting the triple negative community.