Hyperhomocysteinemia in women with advanced breast cancer

Int J Lab Hematol. 2007 Dec;29(6):421-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-553X.2007.00907.x.


Patients with malignancy have an increased risk of venous thromboembolic disease but the pathophysiology of this association has not been precisely defined. Hyperhomocysteinemia has become established as one of the commonest conditions associated with venous and arterial thrombosis. We examined the prevalence of hyperhomocysteinemia in women with early (group A, n = 31), metastatic breast cancer (group B, n = 41) and in a group of healthy females (group C, n = 29). Blood samples were collected at diagnosis or prior to treatment. We measured both total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) and red cell folate (RCF). The Mean (SD) tHcy were group A - 9.43 micromol/l (5.6), group B - 11.34 micromol/l (5.1) and group C - 7.9 micromol/l (1.5). A total of 39% of patients with metastatic and 22.6% with early breast cancer had tHcy concentrations above the upper limit of normal. Women with metastatic disease had significantly higher tHcy compared with controls (P < 0.01) but not when compared with women with early breast cancer. Also, no difference was observed when women with early disease were compared with controls. We found no correlation between age and tHcy. Lower RCF levels were identified in group B compared with group A, but this does not fully explain the increased tHcy levels seen within the same group. We conclude that hyperhomocysteinemia is common in women with advanced breast cancer. This observation could explain the high rate of venous thrombosis in women with metastatic breast malignancy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / blood*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Venous Thromboembolism / blood
  • Venous Thromboembolism / etiology


  • Homocysteine