Background:

Young women treated for breast cancer with cytotoxic therapies are at risk for clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), a condition in which blood cells carrying a somatic mutation associated with hematologic malignancy comprise at least 4% of the total blood system. CHIP has primarily been studied in older patient cohorts with limited clinical phenotyping.

Materials and Methods:

We performed targeted sequencing on longitudinal blood samples to characterize the clonal hematopoietic landscape of 878 women treated for breast cancer enrolled in the prospective Young Women's Breast Cancer Study.

Results:

We identified somatic driver mutations in 252 study subjects (28.7%), but only 24 (2.7%) had clones large enough to meet criteria for CHIP. The most commonly mutated genes were DNMT3A and TET2, similar to mutations observed in noncancer cohorts. At 9-year median follow-up, we found no association between the presence of a somatic blood mutation (regardless of clone size) and adverse breast cancer (distant relapse-free survival) or non–breast cancer-related outcomes in this cohort. A subset of paired blood samples obtained over 4 years showed no evidence of mutant clonal expansion, regardless of genotype. Finally, we identified a subset of patients with likely germline mutations in genes known to contribute to inherited cancer risk, such as TP53 and ATM.

Conclusions:

Our data show that for young women with early-stage breast cancer, CHIP is uncommon after cytotoxic exposure, is unlikely to contribute to adverse outcomes over the decade-long follow-up and may not require additional monitoring if discovered incidentally.

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