Paget Disease of the Breast - Experience

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What is Paget disease of the breast?

Paget disease of the breast (also known as Paget disease of the nipple and mammary Paget disease) is a rare type of cancer involving the skin of the nipple and, usually, the darker circle of skin around it, which is called the areola. Most people with Paget disease of the breast also have one or more tumors inside the same breast. These breast tumors are either ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive breast cancer.

Paget disease of the breast is named after the 19th century British doctor Sir James Paget, who, in 1874, noted a relationship between changes in the nipple and breast cancer. (Several other diseases are named after Sir James Paget, including Paget disease of bone and extramammary Paget disease, which includes Paget disease of the vulva and Paget disease of the penis. These other diseases are not related to Paget disease of the breast. This fact sheet discusses only Paget disease of the breast.)

Malignant cells known as Paget cells are a telltale sign of Paget disease of the breast. These cells are found in the epidermis (surface layer) of the skin of the nipple and the areola. Paget cells often have a large, round appearance under a microscope; they may be found as single cells or as small groups of cells within the epidermis.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: cs, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: January 04

I help take care of my mom every other weekend. While helping her out of the shower I noticed one of her nipples was black. I asked her to wipe it and it came off but there was white paste like stuff behind it. I wonder if this is a sign that there was blood at one time. My mother has dementia so she can't tell me anything. I have looked for pictures of this Paget disease but all I get is diagrams.

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Comment from: Jes, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I developed a breast cyst and my doctor referred me to the breast team at my local hospital. I also had a very sore and itchy nipple on the same breast. I mentioned this to the specialist at the clinic who suggested that I may need a punch biopsy but they also asked for another more senior member of their team to take a look for a second opinion. They said that they were looking for Paget's disease but stated that it wasn"t and I had nothing to be concerned about; but this judgment was made without anyone performing a biopsy, just a visual diagnosis. Seven months later I had another breast cyst and again I asked my doctor to refer me and again I mentioned that my nipple was still extremely sore. Again they felt it was nothing to be concerned about but his time gave me some cream to apply for a couple of weeks. I was asked to go back one month later to see if the cream had cleared up the sore. It hadn"t, so they eventually carried out a punch biopsy which confirmed I did have Paget's and DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) cancer widespread. I now have to have a full mastectomy. It"s taken ten months to get this diagnosed and treated and the anxiety of it all has made me ill. Therefore my advice to any person out here is to be persistent right from the start if you have any concerns no matter how small, it could save your life.

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