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Paget disease of the nipple (or Paget disease of the breast) is a rare type of breast cancer that appears as a rash or other skin changes on the nipple. It rarely occurs in both breasts. It is more common in women over the age of 50.
It is thought that this type of cancer starts in the ducts of the breast and the cancer cells move through the ducts to the skin of the nipple. The cancer may spread to the areola (the dark-coloured skin around the nipple). Most women with Paget disease also have an underlying breast cancer, either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or invasive ductal carcinoma.
The signs and symptoms of Paget disease of the nipple may include changes to the breast, such as:
If the signs and symptoms of Paget disease of the nipple are present, or if the doctor suspects Paget disease of the nipple, tests will be done to make a diagnosis. Tests may include:
Treatment for Paget disease of the nipple often depends on whether or not there is an underlying breast cancer, and whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Treatment is similar to the more common types of breast cancer.
Treatment options for Paget disease of the nipple may include:
The Canadian Cancer Society is actively lobbying the federal government to establish a national caregivers strategy to ensure there is more financial support for this important group of people.