FORCE - Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered  University of South Florida

ABOUT Research Questions:
Are people with BRCA mutations more sensitive to cardiac-damaging effects of chemotherapy than people without mutations.  

Prioritization Score:


Question Source:

Emerging research


Some research has suggested that the BRCA gene may help repair damage to cardiac cells. Anthracyclines are potent chemotherapy agents used to treat many breast cancers but have been linked to heart damage. This has led to researchers studying whether women with BRCA mutations are more prone to the heart damaging effects of these agents. Preliminary research has shown mixed results. This study could confirm whether or not a BRCA mutation makes people more sensitive to the heart damaging effects of these drugs. If proven, this could affect choice of chemotherapy for breast cancer in women with mutations. 

Prioritization Score

Our Steering Committee and Research Work Group gave this study a prioritization score
of 2.38 out of 4 points, meaning this is a medium-priority study.

Feasibility Score

Our Executive Committee and research team rated the feasibility of this research question as medium. Given the potential impact on choice of chemotherapy, and the interest on cancer and heart disease, the Executive Committee felt this was a study that might be promoted for planning, especially if interested collaborators could be identified.

Next Steps

Assess interest from CDRNs or other PPRNs within PCORnet Cancer Collaborative Research Group and search for opportunities to collaborate. If you are a researcher interested in collaborating with ABOUT on this research question, please contact us at:

Details of Prioritization Score

Our Steering Committee prioritizes questions based on four parameters on a scale from 1-4. Here are the average scores:

  • Community impact - 2.53
  • Community need/urgency - 2.40
  • Decision-making impact - 2.27
  • ABOUT Mission - 2.23

Details of Feasibility Score

Our Executive Committee scored feasibility as medium based on the following considerations:

  • Fits with ABOUT Mission
  • Fits a comparative effectiveness model 
  • Addresses a gap
  • Heart disease after chemotherapy is a priority for NCI
  • Challenges:
    • Finding enough participants
    • Study design 
      • Retrospective, prospective vs. interventional
  • Other researchers are focusing on this question. Opportunities for collaboration


Joining FORCEs Newsletter: Heart Disease in BRCA Mutation Carriers

Updated 09/11/16 

This research will be relevant for:

Cancer survivors

Previvors/High risk people



People with a BRCA mutation

People with an ATM, PALB2, PTEN, or other mutation that increases cancer risk

People with Lynch Syndrome

People at high risk for breast cancer

People at high risk for ovarian cancer

People who are newly diagnosed with cancer

Woman submitting question

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ABOUT is a Patient-Powered Research Network in PCORnet®,  the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, an initiative funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

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