A pilot analysis of headache disorders in breast cancer patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The interaction between breast cancer and migraine is complex and not fully elucidated. Large epidemiological studies point towards a beneficial effect of migraines on breast cancer (BC). We aimed to investigate the BC–migraine relationship, with strict data checks and clinical evaluations of both BC and common headache forms. Methods: Consecutive BC patients were evaluated with the International Classification of Headache Disorders. Clinical data on the BC subtypes and treatments were collected. Parametric and nonparametric statistics were used according to data distributions. Results: Fifty patients were recruited. The mean age was 53.5 ± 12.5 years; 42% were postmenopausal, 52% were premenopausal, and 6% were peri-menopausal. Eleven patients were diagnosed as luminal A, nine as luminal B, 24 as HER2-positive (HER2 +), six as triple-negative BC. Thirty-eight (76%) patients had hormone receptor-positive disease. Ninety-two percent received chemotherapy, 66% received endocrine therapy, and 52% received radiotherapy. Nine out of 50 reported a worsening of headache after systemic treatment. Migraine was diagnosed in 29 patients (18 with menstrual migraine), tension-type headache (TTH) in nine, and no headache in 12. Patients with migraine were younger (48.4 ± 10.7 vs. 60.5 ± 12; p < 0.01). Patients with migraine and TTH had a higher chance of having a HER2 + BC (p < 0.05). Active migraine was associated with a higher expression of estrogen receptors (p = 0.04). Conclusions: Patients with active migraine had higher estrogen receptor expression, while migraine and TTH patients mainly had HER2 + BC. This association was not known earlier and could be helpful to understand deeper the relationship between BC and headache.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeurological Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 2021


  • Estrogen receptor
  • HER-2
  • Menstrual migraine
  • Migraine
  • TTH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'A pilot analysis of headache disorders in breast cancer patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this