I do not know of any studies that connects the two diseases. However, I have never gone looking for more trouble, so there may be some research out there that supports a link of which I am unaware.
Sorry for your double whammy and glad that you caught it early.
Cancer risk among patients with multiple sclerosis: a population-based register study.
Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 15;118(4):979-84.
Nielsen NM, Rostgaard K, Rasmussen S, Koch-Henriksen N, Storm HH, Melbye M, Hjalgrim H.
Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. NMN@ssi.dk
Cancer occurrence in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) has been little studied, but associations with brain tumours, breast cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma have been suggested. We took advantage of population-based registers of MS and cancer to assess the risk of cancer following diagnosis of MS. Patients registered in the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Register were linked with the Danish Cancer Register to obtain information on cancer occurrence. The ratio of the observed to the number of expected cancers based on population-based incidence rates, i.e., the standardised incidence ratio (SIR), served as measure of the relative cancer risk. A database comprising all Danish women born after April 1, 1935, with information on all live-born children, was used in the analyses of breast cancer to adjust for reproductive factors.
Overall 1,037 cancers were observed in 11,817 MS patients during 153,875 person-years of follow-up vs. an expected number of 1,098 (SIR = 0.94 [95% confidence interval CI: (0.89-1.00)].
- The risk of brain tumours and Hodgkin lymphoma was not increased.
- A 16% overall reduced cancer risk in men with MS was explained by reduced numbers of cancers of the digestive, respiratory and genital organs.
- Though the overall cancer risk was not increased [SIR = 1.01(0.94-1.09), n = 676], female MS patients had an increased risk of breast cancer [SIR = 1.21 (1.05-1.39), n = 193].
Adjusting for parity and age at first child delivery did not change this risk estimate materially. In general MS patients are not at increased risk of cancer. Women with MS, however, seem to have a small excess risk of breast cancer, which cannot be attributed to reduced parity or delayed first child birth.
Sorry to hear about your breast cancer dx. This is one area where huge advances in treatments have been made in the last decade. And I imagine more are to come.
I haven't come across any research on MS and cancer - although I did read that skin cancer rates are lower in MS patients.
Best wishes. In three weeks or so I will be near Naples so will wave to you from the plane.
I am interested in autoimmune diseases but I actually work in cancer research because I think there are greater possibilities to tackle autoimmune diseases via research already being done in cancer.
With regards to breast cancer, BRCA1 mutations are seen frequently. BRCA1 is believed to be involved in X chromosome inactivation (Females have two X chromosomes but really only need one active, so they inactivate one). My theory is that, in breast cancer, a cell has lost its ability to make functional BRCA1 and so there has arisen a loss of inactivation of the X, or portions of it. In effect, now both X chromosomes have active copies of some genes leading to overexpression and the consequences of that. Because these cells can replicate still, the cancer grows.
With regards to MS and some other autoimmune diseases, these might also involve loss of control of X-linked genes, possibly by loss of BRCA1 function or some other means, such as chromosome breaks. I discussed a scenario previously and mentioned specific genes in the general forum topic 'polyamines'. In the problem cells in MS, they are possibly more mature and not very inclined to replicate but are more inclined to go into apoptosis when they lose control.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, I think in many cases of MS and in most cases of breast cancer, loss of control of some X-linked genes is the start of the problem, followed by overexpression of those genes (because genes on both X chromosomes are now active), or loss of epigenetic control. The consequences of the problem, and the symptoms seen, then depend on the tissue type in which the problem occurs and the replication-competency of the affected cell.
I have heard that some people with an autoimmune disease and cancer actually have a reduction in their autoimmune symptoms when under chemotherapy for the cancer. Maybe it's relative or maybe there are some side-benefits of the cancer drugs. There are better drugs coming for anti-cancer treatment. That is my job and if I can get it to carryover into drugs for autoimmune diseases, I'll be thrilled.
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Thanks so much!
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