Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 108, Issue 2, pp 289–296 | Cite as

Response to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in women with BRCA1-positive breast cancers

  • T. Byrski
  • J. Gronwald
  • T. Huzarski
  • E. Grzybowska
  • M. Budryk
  • M. Stawicka
  • T. Mierzwa
  • M. Szwiec
  • R. Wiśniowski
  • M. Siolek
  • S. A. Narod
  • J. Lubinski
  • the Polish Hereditary Breast Cancer Consortium



There have been no studies to date which look at the relative effectiveness of different regimens of chemotherapy in women who have breast cancer and who carry a BRCA1 germ-line mutation. We wished to compare rates of response to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in BRCA1 mutation carriers and non-carrier controls.

Experimental design

From a registry of 3,479 patients, we identified 44 Polish women who carried a BRCA1 founder mutation and who had been treated with neo-adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer, and 41 age- and hospital-matched controls.


35 of the 44 BRCA1 mutation carriers (80%) experienced a partial or complete response to neo-adjuvant chemotherapy, compared to 39 of the 41 (95%) non-carriers (P = 0.05). In the hereditary subgroup, response rates differed depending on whether or not a taxane (docetaxel) was given. Six of the 15 BRCA1 carrier women given docetaxel with doxorubicin responded (complete or partial), compared to 29 of 29 given other (DNA-damaging) therapies (P = 0.001). Among the non-carriers, the rates of response to the two categories of chemotherapy were similar.


Breast cancers among BRCA1 carriers frequently do not exhibit sensitivity to docetaxel in the neo-adjuvant setting. It is likely that normal BRCA1 is required for clinical response to mitotic spindle poisons.


Taxane Neo-adjuvant chemotherapy BRCA1 Breast cancer Doxorubicin 



This study was funded by the Polish Ministry of Science 04/p05/11. Supported by the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance. We thank William Foulkes for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Byrski
    • 1
  • J. Gronwald
    • 1
  • T. Huzarski
    • 1
  • E. Grzybowska
    • 2
  • M. Budryk
    • 2
  • M. Stawicka
    • 3
  • T. Mierzwa
    • 4
  • M. Szwiec
    • 5
  • R. Wiśniowski
    • 6
  • M. Siolek
    • 7
  • S. A. Narod
    • 8
  • J. Lubinski
    • 1
  • the Polish Hereditary Breast Cancer Consortium
  1. 1.Department of Genetics and Pathology, International Hereditary Cancer CenterPomeranian Medical UniversitySzczecinPoland
  2. 2.Department of Tumor Biology, Centre of OncologyMaria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial InstituteGliwicePoland
  3. 3.Prophylactic and Epidemiology CenterPoznanPoland
  4. 4.Regional Oncology HospitalBydgoszczPoland
  5. 5.Regional Oncology CenterOpolePoland
  6. 6.Regional Oncology HospitalBielsko BialaPoland
  7. 7.Holy Cross Oncology CenterKielcePoland
  8. 8.Women’s College Research InstituteUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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