Paget’s Disease of the Breast: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Breast cancer is a common disease that affects millions of women worldwide. Less than 5% of breast cancer cases are Paget’s disease of the breast, an uncommon form of the disease. This disease is named after Sir James Paget, a British surgeon who first described it in 1874. In this blog, we will discuss Paget’s disease of the breast, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. We will also answer frequently asked questions about breast health and this disease.
What is Paget’s disease of the breast?
Breast cancer that affects the skin and nipple of the breast is called Paget’s disease of the breast. It is also known as Paget’s disease of the nipple. This disease starts in the ducts of the breast and spreads to the skin and the nipple. It is quite common in women over 50 years of age, but it can also occur in younger women and men.
What are the signs of breast Paget’s disease?
The signs of Paget’s disease of the breast may include:
– Flaky, scaly, or crusty skin on the nipple or the areola
– Itchy, red, or swollen skin on the nipple or the areola
– Nipple discharge, which may be yellowish or bloody
– A lump in the breast, which may or may not be painful
– A burning or tingling sensation in the nipple or the breast
These symptoms may be similar to other skin conditions or breast diseases. If you suffer any of these symptoms, you must immediately consult a doctor.
How is breast Paget’s disease identified?
Paget’s breast disease is identified through a physical examination, imaging studies, and a biopsy. The doctor performs a breast exam and can also suggest a mammogram or an ultrasound look for irregularities in the breast tissue. The diagnosis can only be verified with a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small tissue sample from the nipple or the breast is removed and examined under a microscope.
What are the treatment options for Paget’s disease of the breast?
The treatment for Paget’s breast disease depends on the cancer stage and the individual’s overall health. The main treatment options include:
Surgery: Surgery aims to remove the cancerous tissue from the breast. In some cases, a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) may be necessary. In other cases, a lumpectomy (removal of only the cancerous tissue) may be sufficient.
Radiation therapy: High-energy radiation is used in radiation treatment to eliminate cancer cells. It may be used pre or post-surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy utilises drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be used before or after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy is used for cancers that are hormone receptor-positive. It blocks the hormones that fuel the growth of cancer cells.
In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be used.
What is the expected outcome for breast Paget’s disease?
Paget’s breast disease prognosis depends on the cancer stage and the individual’s overall health. The earlier the cancer is found and treated, the better the prognosis. If the cancer is confined to the nipple and the areola, the five-year survival rate is around 95%. The five-year survival rate is roughly 34% if cancer has spread to the body or other breast or body organs.
Paget’s Disease and Diversity
Breast cancer affects people of all races and ethnicities, but certain groups may be at higher risk due to genetics, healthcare access, and lifestyle choices. It is important to understand the unique needs and challenges diverse communities face to breast cancer and to work towards equitable access to screening, treatment, and support resources.
Breast cancer and environmental factors
While genetics and lifestyle factors contribute to breast cancer risk, environmental factors may also play a role. Exposure to certain chemicals, pollutants, and radiation may increase the risk of breast cancer. By understanding and addressing these environmental risk factors, we may be able to reduce the overall incidence of breast cancer.
Paget’s Disease Survivorship
For individuals who have completed breast cancer treatment, survivorship can be a new and challenging phase of life. Physical changes, emotional challenges, and ongoing medical care may mark survivorship. Survivors need access to support resources and survivorship care plans to help them navigate this new phase of life. Cancers cancer and the workplace
Breast cancer can significantly impact a person’s ability to work, including lost wages and decreased productivity. Employers need to provide accommodations and support for employees with breast cancer, such as flexible work schedules and access to healthcare benefits.
Paget’s Disease and Spirituality
Breast cancer can prompt individuals to reflect on their spiritual beliefs and practices. Spiritual resources, such as prayer, meditation, and connection to a faith community, can provide comfort and strength during a difficult time.
Paget’s Disease and Sexuality
Breast cancer treatment can impact sexual function, desire, body image, and self-esteem. Individuals need access to resources and support to address these concerns, including sexual health counselling and support groups.
Breast cancer and advocacy
Breast cancer advocacy involves raising awareness, promoting research, and advocating for policies that support breast cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. Advocacy efforts can help to ensure that breast cancer remains a public health priority and that all individuals have access to the resources and care they need.
Paget’s disease and men
While breast cancer is commonly associated with women, men can also develop the disease. Male breast cancer is rare, but it is important for men to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors and to seek medical attention if they notice any changes in their breast tissue.
Advances in breast cancer research and treatment
Research in the field of breast cancer is ongoing, and there have been many recent advances in diagnosis and treatment. New technologies such as genomic testing and targeted therapies are helping to personalise treatment for individuals based on their unique cancer characteristics. It is important to stay informed about these advances and to work towards continued progress in breast cancer research.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What causes breast cancer?
Breast cancer is caused by abnormal cells that grow and divide uncontrollably in the breast tissue. The exact cause of breast cancer is unknown, but several risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. These include age, gender, family history, genetics, and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity.
Is Paget’s disease of the breast hereditary?
Paget’s disease of the breast can be hereditary in some cases. Paget’s disease and other forms of breast cancer are more likely to occur due to mutations in specific genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have certain gene abnormalities or a history of breast cancer in their families may require more regular breast cancer screenings.
Can men get Paget’s disease of the breast?
Yes, men can get Paget’s disease of the breast, although it is rare. Men account for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases, and Paget’s disease of the breast is even less common in men.
How is breast cancer detected?
Several techniques can be used to find breast cancer, including mammography, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and breast biopsy. It is recommended that women undergo regular mammograms starting at age 40 or earlier if they have a family history of breast cancer.
What are some other types of breast cancer?
Other types of breast cancer include invasive ductal carcinoma, invasive lobular carcinoma, triple-negative breast cancer, and inflammatory breast cancer. Each type of breast cancer has its own characteristics and treatment options.
What are some ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Some ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer include maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, and undergoing regular breast cancer screening. Women with certain risk factors, such as a family history of breast cancer, may need extra precautions to lower their risk.
What should I do if I find a lump in my breast?
You must visit a doctor as soon as possible if you discover a lump in your breast. Although the majority of breast lumps are not malignant, it is crucial to receive a proper diagnosis. To identify the origin of the lump, the doctor may request imaging tests or a biopsy.
Is breast cancer curable?
Breast cancer is treatable and, in many cases, curable. The earlier the cancer is exposed and devised a treatment, the better the chances of survival. However, even in cases where cancer has spread, treatment options can help control the disease and extend life.
What are some common side effects of breast cancer treatment?
Common side effects of breast cancer treatment include fatigue, nausea, hair loss, skin irritation, and changes in appetite. These side effects can vary depending on the type of treatment and the individual’s overall health.
How can I support someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer?
If someone you know has been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are many ways you can offer support. Some ideas include offering to help with household chores or errands, accompanying them to doctor’s appointments, or simply being a good listener and providing emotional support.
An uncommon form of breast cancer called Paget’s disease of the breast affects the skin and nipple of the breast. While it is a serious disease, it is treatable and, in many cases, curable. Regular breast cancer screening and early detection are important for improving breast cancer prognosis. By understanding the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for Paget’s disease of the breast, we can work towards reducing the impact of this disease on individuals and communities.
Dr Ghazia Dua