Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. Statistically speaking, 1 in 8 women suffers from a certain type of breast cancer some point in their life. Paget’s disease falls into the uncommon category of breast cancer.
Paget’s disease of the breast
Although they share the same name, Paget’s disease of the breast is not exactly a relative of Paget’s disease of the bone. There has not been a scientific explanation for Paget’s disease of the breast. Some scientists believe that the disease is a warning sign of ductal breast cancer. The cancerous cells leave their point of origin and travel to the nipples, spreading the disease to surrounding tissues. Others argue that Paget’s disease of the breast is an independent condition of the nipple.
Risk factors of Paget’s disease
Although science cannot agree on the cause, scientists are able to come up with some risk factors, including:
- Old age;
- A history of breast cancer;
- A history of breast abnormalities;
- A family history of breast-related conditions;
- Genetic predispositions which make you prone to breast cancer, ovarian and other cancers;
- Dense breast tissues;
- Previous radiation exposure;
- Hormone replacement;
- Alcohol consumption.
Nevertheless, there are some risk factors that do not guarantee of having Paget’s disease.
Symptoms of Paget’s disease
Possible symptoms of Paget’s disease are:
- Flaky or scaly nipples;
- Crusty skin;
- Burning feeling;
- Unusual nipple discharge;
- Inverted nipples;
- A small lump;
- Thickened skin.
It is easy to mistake symptoms of Paget’s disease for dermatitis or other skin conditions since they respond to topical treatment. If you experience those signs for more than a month, you will need to meet a doctor. Paget’s disease of the breast can be diagnosed by using physical exams and a mammogram. Your doctor may request a biopsy to detect any abnormal pattern in your breast tissue.
Treatment of Paget’s disease
If you are diagnosed with Paget’s disease, it is likely that you will need a surgery. Depending on how advanced your nipple condition is, you will need different types of the surgery. Surgical options include:
- Simple mastectomy, which means removing the entire breast but leaving the lymph nodes in your armpit untouched.
- Lumpectomy, which means removing only the affected area.
After the surgery, you may need additional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy to avoid getting breast cancer again. Beside, Paget’s disease of the breast is a manageable condition. With proper medical care and medications, you can get rid of the disease, and maintain a long and happy life.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.
Review Date: March 11, 2017 | Last Modified: November 15, 2019
Paget’s disease of the breast. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pagets-disease-of-the-breast/home/ovc-20198014 Assessed October 17, 2016.