Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between thyroid function abnormalities and breast cancer and, in particular, the prognostic markers of breast cancer..
Subjects and methods: Baseline levels of thyrotropin, free triiodothyronine, free thyroxine and thyroid autoantibodies were measured in 97 women with primary breast cancer, 27 women with benign breast disease, and 4 women with atypical ductal hyperplasia. Their baseline levels were compared with those in 48 healthy women with a normal mammography in the last 2 years.
Results: There were no significant associations between history of thyroid disease and breast cancer (p = 0.33). The mean baseline levels of triiodothyronine and thyrotropin did not differ significantly between the compared groups. The mean baseline levels of free thyroxine were found to be significantly higher in the breast cancer group, even after adjusting for thyroid replacement therapy. The presence of thyroid antibodies did not differ significantly between the compared groups. In a subgroup analysis, breast cancer cases with thyroid disease and particularly hypothyroidism had a significantly lower incidence of lymph node metastases compared with breast cancer cases without thyroid disease.
Conclusions: Our data confirmed the proliferative effect of thyroid hormones on breast cells, which had previously been shown in vitro. Additionally, thyroid disease and particularly hypothyroid function appeared to be associated with a lower incidence of lymph node metastases. Further studies to determine the prognostic role of thyroid hormones in breast cancer are warranted.