Dr. Daniel Cameron: Inside Lyme Podcast

Breast cancer patient develops Lyme disease

Hello, and welcome to another Inside Lyme Podcast. I am your host Dr. Daniel Cameron. In this episode, I will be discussing the case of a 61-year-old woman who had Lyme disease, along with breast cancer.

The case was published in the journal Diagnostics (Basel) by Ørbæk and colleagues.

A 61-year-old woman was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer with lymph node metastasis. She had undergone a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy, radiation, and anti-estrogen treatment letrozole.

One year later, the woman complained of radicular leg and back pain that continued despite narcotics. (Radicular pain follows the nerve.) Doctors initially suspected a blood clot or meningeal carcinomatosis and prescribed a blood thinner and high dose steroids.

An MRI and PET scan found no evidence of cancer.

Over the next two weeks, her band-shaped pain and truncal dysesthesias worsened.   (Dysesthesia is a painful, itchy, burning, or restrictive sensation.) Doctors also observed a foot drop on one foot and right-sided facial palsy.

A spinal tap was performed because of unexplained neurologic findings. Results indicated pleocytosis and elevated protein.

Lyme disease tests by blood and spinal fluid were positive.

The woman was prescribed intravenous ceftriaxone for 14 days. She became pain free. Up until that time, she was in severe pain despite narcotics.

The following questions are addressed in the podcast:

  1. Have there been reports of cancer patients with Lyme disease?
  2. Have you seen cancer patients with Lyme disease?
  3. Can Lyme disease patients suffer from radicular leg and back pain?
  4. What is the significance of the foot drop and right sided Bell’s palsy?
  5. Can Lyme disease patients be in severe pain?
  6. Could Lyme disease increase the risk of a recurrence of cancer?
  7. How is a doctor to know what symptoms are Lyme disease vs. cancer?
  8. Was 14 days of antibiotics sufficient for this Lyme disease patient with a history of breast cancer?
  9. What are your concerns if a Lyme disease patient requires chemotherapy, radiation, and anti-estrogen treatment letrozole?

Thanks for listening to another Inside Lyme Podcast. You can read more about these cases in my show notes and on my website @DanielCameronMD.com. As always, it is your likes, comments, reviews, and shares that help spread the word about Lyme disease. Until next time on Inside Lyme.

Please remember that the advice given is general and not intended as specific advice as to any particular patient. If you require specific advice, then please seek that advice from an experienced professional.

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  1. Ørbæk M, Klausen C, Lebech AM, Mens H. Lyme Neuroborreliosis in a Patient with Breast Cancer: MRI and PET/CT Findings. Diagnostics (Basel). 2020 Jan 9;10(1). pii: E36.

1 Reply to "Breast cancer patient develops Lyme disease"

  • Cindy Simmons Garcia
    03/08/2024 (11:03 am)

    I was Dx with Bacterial Meningitis in college in 1992. Dx with Lyme Disease in 2017 and Breast cancer in 2022. Was treated with Tamoxifen then Anastrozole, but had to discontinue due to extreme joint and musculoskeletal pain. Was switched to Examestane, but also had to discontinue to to extreme joint and musculoskeletal pain throughout entire body, made me feel like an 80 year old. Have since discontinue all cancer meds. My oncologist @ The University of Miami-Sylvester Cancer Center is considering putting me on a low dose Tamoxifen in April after a break of all cancer meds. Interested in your insights Dr. Cameron.

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