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Breast Cancer and Graves Disease

NotAfraid Member Posts: 12

I had DCIS 6 years ago and developed Graves Disease at the same time. Since that time, I've run into quite a few other women who have had the double whammy of these two autoimmune diseases at the same time.  Anyone else here have these 2 diseases appear at the same time?


  • Ricki13
    Ricki13 Member Posts: 3
    edited February 2011

    This is interesting.

    I was dxed with Graves disease in mid 2007, then TNBC in late 2008.  

    My own theory (unsupported by any evidence whatsoever!) is that my health problems began in 2005 when I had a dreadful throat infection (pharyngitis) that took me months (not weeks) to get over. I've never been so sick.  Even a year later my vocal chords were compromised and I even had some voice therapy.  I have this idea that the throat infection caused a lot of damage to my immune system and that opened the door for Graves and then BC to develop.

     Incidentally, for Graves I was treated with neomercazole only (5 tabs/day) and I am currently within normal TSH levels etc.

  • GrandHillMom
    GrandHillMom Member Posts: 2
    edited February 2011

    I was diagnosed with Graves' in 2001 and BC in 2005--however, I was Stage IIIb at diagnosis, so I think I had BC for a long time before 2005.  I also had shingles around the time of the Graves' and pneumonia in 2004.  I think my body was trying to fight the cancer and my immune system was overstressed. 

  • hdaleman
    hdaleman Member Posts: 1
    edited February 2011

    I feel that there is a link between my Graves disease and my bc.  My hyperthyroidism went undignosed and got really bad.  I wish they would do more research is this area.  I do believe that there is a link.

  • carol1949
    carol1949 Member Posts: 48
    edited February 2011

    I am hypothyroid and the first words my oncologist said to me was she thought my bc had something to do with my thyroid.  Many physicians and alternative physicians believe bc to be a disease from a weakened immune system.  Certainly after chemo, we all have a compromised immune system.

    I would highly suggest reading Patrick Quillon's Beating Cancer With Nutrition.  He basically tells how to improve our immune systems!

  • kim40
    kim40 Member Posts: 125
    edited February 2011

    Interesting.  I was d/x with Graves disease in 2002 and breast cancer in 2008.  I often wondered the same thing.  More research should definelty be done in this area.

  • beacon800
    beacon800 Member Posts: 47
    edited February 2011

    My hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid was diagnosed within 4 months of my LCIS dx.  My mom had graves disease and got IDC.  I have read there is a much higher than expected number of women with thyroid disease who then get bc.

  • LisaAlissa
    LisaAlissa Member Posts: 34
    edited February 2011

    I've never heard DCIS described as an "autoimmune disease."  What's the basis for the assumption in your survey question?

  • Shrek4
    Shrek4 Member Posts: 519
    edited February 2011

    I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in 2003 and with DCIS, LCIS, IDC, ILC and cribriform in 2009. Of course the dr. said it was there probably for almost 20 years.

    By my understanding (and after a discussion with my BS who is an Oncology surgeon specialized in breast cancer), the connection with thyroid disease is only referring to the hypo-thyroid. When it comes to hyperthyroid though, there is a connection there, but not with the thyroid per se. It is due to the fact that the rapid metabolism robs us of Vit D, and there is a clear connection between low level of Vit. D and breast cancer.

    Autoimmune thyroid disease does NOT mean a weakened immune system, but an immune system that doesn't recognize it's own body's tissues and starts attacking them.

    In Hashimoto, the immune system is not weakened - on the contrary, it starts attacking the thyroid gland. Physiologically, these auto-antibodies are targeted against thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin, which is causing a gradual destruction of follicles in the thyroid gland itself. The thyroid tries to keep up in most cases by growing and thus forming a goiter, and in other cases it just gets destroyed.

    Graves Disease is also an autoimmune disease, but, the same as for Hashimoto's, the immune system in this case is not weaker, on the contrary, it becomes too "feisty" and starts attacking the own body's tissues. Different than Hashimoto's, in this case the immune system forms antibodies that attack the Thyroid stimulating hormone receptor, thus unbalancing the very delicate relationship between the pituitary (that releases the thyroid stimulating hormone - TSH) and the thyroid that responds to the TSH. Thus, the thyroid starts producing uncontrolled thyroid hormone, and can even start growing out of control forming a goiter. The major difference between Hashimoto's and Graves is that in Graves the antibodies also attack the tissues around the eye (Graves Eye Disease) causing proptosis and in some cases, the tissues on the shins. Hashimoto's doesn't cause eye problems, while Graves does cause serious eye problems and in some cases can lead to blindness.

    The relation between cancer and immune system is that the immune system normally destroys cancer cells (which everybody has at one point or another in their body, without causing problems), but in some cases it stops destroying them. Cancer is not so much a matter of cells growing uncontrollably, but of cells not dying in a normal rhythm (the apoptosis - cell death - is much slowed).

  • NotAfraid
    NotAfraid Member Posts: 12
    edited February 2011

    Great explaination, Day!

     The short overview from Wiki sums up what an autoimmune disease is:

    Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells. The immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it. This may be restricted to certain organs (e.g. in chagas disease) or involve a particular tissue in different places (e.g. Goodpasture's disease which may affect the basement membrane in both the lung and the kidney). The treatment of autoimmune diseases is typically with immunosuppression—medication which decreases the immune response.

  • collie-flower
    collie-flower Member Posts: 148
    edited February 2011

    Wow, great explanations Ladies!  I was diagnosed with two auto-immune diseases: Graves in 1987 (treated with radioactive iodine) and Discoid Lupus in 1990.  I've often wondered if there was a link between them and my BC diagnosis in 2009??? 

  • kim40
    kim40 Member Posts: 125
    edited February 2011

    Thank you Day!  It certainly do make a lot of sense that the two are related.

  • krista613
    krista613 Member Posts: 10
    edited February 2011

    I was diagnosed with Graves disease in 12/09 and then breast cancer 9/10.  Ive never heard of a correlation, but surprised when I read about all on here that have had both!

  • yramal
    yramal Member Posts: 90
    edited February 2011

    I was diagnosed with Graves' disease in 1982 and treated with radioactive iodine. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. I've often wondered if my cancer was a result of the RI treatment. My oncologist says no, but I still wonder. 


  • juliet62
    juliet62 Member Posts: 3,246
    edited May 2011

    i had graves in 1996 and treated with radioactive iodine,  diagnosed with bc in 4/11,

  • NotAfraid
    NotAfraid Member Posts: 12
    edited May 2011

    My unofficial research continues.....I've talked with so many more women who have had breast cancer AND another autoimmune disease appear at the same time.  It has not necessarily been Graves, but Fibro Myalgia, Chrones, MS, RA and Polymyocitis. 

    I guess it makes sense that when your body is attacking itself (as with cancer) other form of attack will happen.  

  • StaceyLynn
    StaceyLynn Member Posts: 11
    edited May 2011

    Graves Disease in 1997 treated with radioactive iodine and lupus (SLE) diagnosed for the 2nd time in 2009. (In the late '80s I was dx with SLE, but no doctor would provide any type of treatment.)

  • slinky
    slinky Member Posts: 166
    edited May 2011

    Graves Disease in 1995 and dx with BC 1/11.  I was also treated with radioactive iodine and I now take medication daily.

  • Rennasus
    Rennasus Member Posts: 642
    edited May 2011

    Diagnosed with Graves Disease in June 1993 and treated with radioactive iodine. I now take 125mcgs of Synthroid daily. 

    Shortly after I was diagnosed with Graves, I found a large lump in my breast that seemed to come out of nowhere (coincidentally, it was in the same breast I ended up getting IDC in Dec 2010). When I told my endocrinologist I found a lump, I remember him getting flustered and saying, "Holy shit. Your metabolism is revving, which could make ANY lumps grow bigger. You need to get it checked out." He referred me to a breast surgeon. It turned out to be a cyst.

    I tried Tapazole to slow down my thyroid function but had a bad reaction to it so I had to do the radioactive iodine in summer 1993.

    It was 17 years between my Graves diagnosis and my BC diagnosis. For me, I don't think there is any correlation. I think it's just bad luck.

    My dance with the Big C: ***BMX & TE on Feb 3; then 3 incision revisions (2/19, 3/28 & 4/26). 

  • She
    She Member Posts: 131
    edited May 2011

    Very interesting thread.  I had no thyroid problems until after rads to lt breast.  Then I got Graves, and like others tried Tapazole and then went for RAI.  My eyes are affected and so are my shins.  I had a beauty of a goiter but it went away with the RAI.

    I think my thyroid got hit with rads 'scatter' which triggered hyperthyroidism that progressed to Graves.  I also have RA in my neck now, never had it before but (sigh) it could be age too.

  • kimf
    kimf Member Posts: 14
    edited June 2011

    Wow! This is really interesting...I'm in this group, too. IDC in 12/04, Thyroid cancer in 6/06 but the goiter was there at the bc just biopsied negative initially. However, still had the thyroidectomy after bc tx and came back pos for papillary carcinoma/follicular variant. Now I'm dealing with what looks like autoimmune. Testing still being done. So many of us, blows my mind.

  • Rennasus
    Rennasus Member Posts: 642
    edited June 2011

    Kim, sorry to hear it. Let us know how your tests come back!

  • SandyJ58
    SandyJ58 Member Posts: 1
    edited July 2012

    Wow, I am blown away reading these comments.  I was diagnosed with IDC 5 days ago and am still in a state of shock.  I eat reasonably well have had four children, breastfed each for a year and absolutely no history of cancer in my family, sorry correction my fathers father had cancer of the larynx and that is is.  I am one of 7, 5 being female.  I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in April 2010 and unfortunately it had gone undiagnosed for far too long.  I had allergic reactions to the medications they gave me and consequently they were unable to bring my thyroid function under control and because I also had the thyroid eye disease they opted to surgically removed my thyroid November 2010.  I had only just started to come right having had a severe tetany attack following the surgery, now this.  Do I have anything to look forward to ladies?  I am scared I have an appointment to see the surgeon on Monday and because I don't know enough I will just go along with whatever he tells me am I right to do that.  Are there any particular things I need to ask? 

  • ducky113
    ducky113 Member Posts: 8
    edited July 2014

    Same here...just I was diagnosed with IDC BC 3 years ago and was only just diagnosed with Grave's.

  • Penzance
    Penzance Member Posts: 39
    edited March 2016

    Multinodular goitre dx in 2010. Nodules autonomous, I.e. Do not take any heed of the pituitary and just keep firing. So low tsh and high t3/t4, difficulty keeping weight (esp. Muscle) on, tendency to diarrhea, heart flutters etc No treatment so far, just watchful waiting.. Very low in vit Ď despite supplementing. Was very relaxed about my lumpy breasts until PCLIS dx in 2014. Family history of auto immune issues, food intolérances (seafood, strawberries, gluten, dairy) and allergic reactions (anaphylactic shock following encounter with a wee bee, severe rash after intake of over the counter cold and flu drug etc.) including possibly Ms and fibromyalgia. Think thyroid been revving up lately, intend to get it checked at same time as bc (appointment long overdue) but employer won't let me take a day off!

    Thanks Shrek for the detailed explanations.

  • shready
    shready Member Posts: 1
    edited March 2016

    I was diagnosed with Grave's about a year ago & DCIS just recently.

  • moderators
    moderators Posts: 7,639
    edited March 2016

    Dear shready,

    Welcome to the community. We are sorry about your diagnoses but glad that you reached out to us. Please let us know more as to how we can support you here. The Mods

  • 2911Mays
    2911Mays Member Posts: 2
    edited May 2016

    This is interesting. My mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 27, and now has several autoimmune diseases (CVID, Sjodren's, RA). I was diagnosed with cervical cancer at age 27 (yep, I'm gonna be a nervous freak when my daughter turns 27) and was diagnosed with Graves Disease and Thyroid Eye Disease 18 months ago (am now 34 years old). I'm heading to my gyn this week for lump in armpit, painful and itchy breast, with weird bug bite like spots. Praying against bc.

  • Grace1626
    Grace1626 Member Posts: 1
    edited October 2016

    Hi I was diagnosed with Graves disease in 2012 and since then I've been taking tapazole 20 mg daily....Then just about in Feb.2016 I was diagnosed with HPV strain 16-18 and had cold knife surgery and I get check next year to see how well did the surgery go...My issue is now I had the surgery in March 2016 I say about 2-3 weeks after that I got a boil under my left arm pit and it got bigger..I've gotten them several time under that same arm and my obgyn would look and fill it and say it's not cancer just keep it clean it will go away...So this one I got a couple months ago I had go to ER to get meds for it antibiotics it went away....Now the scary part about it is the ER doctor didn't take a sample it anything ...Even more scary is since then I haven't got another one but my left breast nipple just out of nowhere goes inverted... Really i think it's breast cancer no lumps in breast just a dull ache here and there ...I'm scared it seems just bad luck all around...I don't want to find out if it is cancer I already got problems with HPV...I was always told don't let doctors cut on you when a person has cancer soon after air hits the cancer sight from surgery it spreads I think the HPV spreaded that fast to my breast.idk just really feeling hopeless

  • merscotland
    merscotland Member Posts: 22
    edited November 2016

    Hi Grace

    I'm don't come on this site very often but I've just read your post but I can't tell if someone else has responded to you. You sure have had a lot to deal with recently but I think its always better to get things checked out. Antibiotics don't get rid of cancer so I think you had boils - may be because you are run down just now (I know if your thyroid levels are off this can happen)?

    HPV - in some cases, is linked to greater risk of breast cancer. You definitely need to get your breasts checked. Its not usual to suddenly develop inverted nipples (but that doesn't mean you have definitely got symptoms of cancer either). Also breast pain shouldn't just be dismissed (I know I should have gone a lot sooner when my left breast became very sore and I didn't know that fibrous tissue (dense tissue should be checked too).The earlier you go and see your doctor about your concerns the better in the long run. If it is bad news then at least you can begin treatment sooner rather than later. If it is good news you then you can put your mind at ease.

    Don't let your doctor dismiss your concerns - tell him/her you want to be checked out properly. I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in January this year. I had chemotherapy (to reduce tumour size) then I was able to get a lumpectomy (I didn't need a mastectomy) and to complete my treatment I've recently finished 3 weeks radiotherapy. II won't pretend its been easy - in fact it has been a very hard 9 months. However, I have a Nottingham Prognostic Indicator (NPI) score of 4.18 which equates to a 70% chance of 5 year survival (each year after that my survival chances continue to improve for TNBC)

    I was diagnosed with Graves disease in 2005 and stage 3 kidney disease in 2007. I'm convinced that chronic inflammation is behind all these conditions.

    I wish you all the best Grace and I'll keep you in my prayers.

  • Fixitgirl
    Fixitgirl Member Posts: 1
    edited September 2018

    I was diagnosed with DCIS in August 2016. I had surgery then whole breast radiation. By May of 2017 I had full blown Graves Disease to the point I could not walk without falling. I've been in treatment with Tapazole 40 mg per day. No one will confirm, but I strongly suspect a causal relationship here. My dr. wants me to have the Radio active iodine treatment, but I'm putting him off until next summer.