Germline BRCA1/2 mutations and severe haematological toxicities in patients with breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Published:January 07, 2021DOI:


      • gBRCA1/2 mutation did not increase overall toxicities after the first or all cycles.
      • gBRCA1/2 mutation did not affect severe haematological toxicities.
      • Difference in febrile neutropenia according to gBRCA status was negligible.
      • Severe thrombocytopaenia was increased in the subgroup of gBRCA1-mutant patients.
      • gBRCA1/2 mutation status did not impact the total dose intensity of chemotherapy.



      BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a central role in DNA repair. Therefore, patients harbouring germline (g) BRCA1/2 mutations (m) treated with chemotherapy might be at higher risk of haematological toxicities.


      Patients from German Breast Group (GBG) and Arbeitsgemeinschaft Gynäkologische Onkologie-breast group studies with early triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and known gBRCA1/2m status treated with anthracycline-taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy were analysed. Primary objective was the rate of neutropenia grade (G)III–IV in cycle 1 (C1). Secondary objectives included effects on overall and other haematological toxicities GIII-IV in C1, cumulative haematological toxicity across all cycles, relative total dose intensity, and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor prophylaxis. Haematological toxicities under taxanes, carboplatin, and cyclophosphamide were explored.


      Two hundred nine of 1171 (17.8%) evaluated patients had gBRCA1/2m. In C1, 37.4% gBRCA1/2m versus 35.7% wild-type patients had neutropenia GIII-IV (P = 0.683). For C1, gBRCA1/2m predicted neither for neutropenia GIII-IV (odds ratio [OR]: 1.26, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 0.87–1.82, P = 0.226) nor for other haematological toxicities GIII-IV (OR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.64–1.31, P = 0.625) in multivariable regression models. Analyses of cumulative toxicities across all cycles yielded similar results except thrombocytopaenia GIII-IV, which was increased in gBRCA1m patients. In patients treated with taxanes, the rate of haematological toxicities GIII-IV was higher in gBRCA1/2m compared with wild-type (59.5% versus 43.1%; p < 0.001). No difference was seen under cyclophosphamide or platinum-containing chemotherapies.


      gBRCA1/2m was not associated with higher risk of overall severe haematological toxicities in the first cycle or cumulatively across all cycles under standard chemotherapy for TNBC. Under taxane, patients with gBRCA1/2m might have a higher risk of haematological toxicities GIII-IV, requiring further research.


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