Original Article

Rheumatological Findings in Patients with Breast Cancer


  • Figen Tarhan
  • Gökhan Keser
  • Ahmet Alacacıoğlu
  • Servet Akar

Received Date: 30.07.2019 Accepted Date: 10.10.2019 Eur J Breast Health 2020;16(1):55-60


Breast Cancer (BC) is the most frequently diagnosed malignancy worldwide. Not only may BC be associated with rheumatic symptoms and diseases, but also the drugs used in the treatment of this disease, including aromatase inhibitors (AIs), may lead to musculoskeletal system symptoms. In this study, we aimed to investigate the spectrum of rheumatic symptoms and diseases developing in patients with BC having no previous diagnosis of any inflammatory rheumatic disease.

Materials and Methods:

Patients with a history of BC referring to Rheumatology Outpatient Clinics with complaints of musculoskeletal system symptoms at two centers between 2008 and 2018 were screened retrospectively. Patients with a previous diagnosis of any inflammatory rheumatic diseases before the occurrence of BC were excluded. Demographic data, onset and duration of BC, as well as onset and duration of rheumatic symptoms/diseases were recorded. Relevant laboratory tests, including autoantibodies, available imaging findings and the treatments received were also registered.


Mean age of 128 BC patients at the time of admission was found to be 54.76±8.21 years. Mean durations of disease for BC and rheumatic disorders were 85.705±15.507 and 60.84±19.20 months, respectively. Out of 128 BC patients, nearly one third (n: 41; 32.03%), developed an inflammatory rheumatic disease, and rheumatoid arthritis was the most frequent pathology. Nonspecific arthralgia and myalgia were more frequent in patients receiving AIs than those receiving tamoxifen, despite lack of significant difference (p=0.421, p=0.411).


Given that nearly one third of the patients developed an inflammatory rheumatic disease, it should be remembered that locomotor symptoms in patients with BC may be caused not only by bone metastasis or paraneoplastic effects, but they may also suggest the presence of associated rheumatic diseases.

Keywords: Breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren syndrome