Paget’s Disease of the Nipple
fairly rare form of breast cancer is called Paget’s disease of the nipple. It is a condition in which cancer cells form in and around the
nipple. This type of cancer is thought to account for about 5% of
all breast cancer cases in the US. But it is important to know
about the symptoms of the type of breast cancer because most of the people who have it also have another type of
breast cancer can be either in situ or invasive. But let’s discuss
some further details here.
This type of
cancer usually originates in the ducts of the nipple and then spreads to the nipple surface itself and the
areola. When this happens, the nipple and areola can become red,
itchy and irritated.
It is not
known exactly why this form of breast cancer develops. One theory
is that the cancer begins growing inside of the milk ducts within the breast and is then carried out to the
nipple itself. This can help explain why the vast majority of
people who have this type of cancer also have another type of cancer within the breast itself.
affects the vast majority of women. However to a much lesser
extent, men can be affected as well. It normally develops after the
age of 50 and the average age where the cancer was diagnosed in women was 62 and in men age 69.
symptoms of this type of breast cancer are changes to the color and texture of the skin in and around the
nipple. It may appear to be red, sore or flaky. Initially these symptoms can come and go.
symptoms to look for include itching and burning sensation in the nipples; pain and sensitivity to touch;
thickening of the skin in and around the nipples; a flattening of the nipples; and a yellowish or bloody
discharge from the nipples.
unfortunate but because this type of breast cancer is so rare, it can be mistaken for other
problems. Doctors may mistake it for an infection, injury or a
rash. In some cases it may take several months of visits to get
an accurate diagnosis. If you experience these symptoms it is
usually best to see a breast specialist who is more experienced in diagnosing the problem
In order to
properly diagnose Page’s disease of the nipple, a number of steps are performed. This first involves a physical examination of the breasts with special
attention paid to the nipple area. The doctor will be checking for
unusual masses or lumps within the breast as well.
would also be done to check for evidence of cancer in the breast and nipples. Ultrasound or breast MRI’s may be included to check further
details. And finally a biopsy of the nipple and areola is usually
performed to take a sample of tissue in the affected area for further study. If there is an unusual discharge from the nipple, a sample of that material
will be taken as well.
positive diagnosis is confirmed, the most common type of treatment is surgery to remove the cancerous
tissue. The type and degree of surgery depends on the severity of
the cancer and whether it is also present in other parts of the breast. Surgeons try to limit the amount of breast tissue removed in order to help
conserve the breast. So the nipple and areola may be removed as
well as a lumpectomy if the cancer is also present somewhere in the breast itself. If the condition is more widespread than a mastectomy may be the best course
treatments including chemotherapy, radiations therapy or hormone therapy may be performed to help to assure that
all the cancer has been removed or destroyed. Follow up treatment
and care if very important to watch for any complications or return of the disease.