Paget's Disease Of The Breast
This factsheet is for women diagnosed with Paget’s disease of the breast. We hope it answers some of your questions and helps you discuss your options with your cancer specialist or breast care nurse. We recommend that you read it together with our booklet Understanding Cancer of the Breast.
What is paget's disease of the breast?
Paget's Disease of the breast is an uncommon form of breast cancer, which first shows as nipple changes.This type of breast cancer starts in the
breast ducts and spreads to the skin of the nipple and the areola (the dark circle around the nipple). It occurs in around 1% of all women with breast cancer. Men can also get Paget's disease but this is very rare.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The most common sign is a red, scaly rash involving the nipple, which may spread to the areola (the darker skin around the nipple). The rash can feel itchy or you may have a burning sensation. The nipple may be inverted (pulled in) and there may also be some discharge. The symptoms of Paget’s disease can look like other skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. However, there are differences. For example, Paget’s disease affects the nipple from the start while eczema affects the areola region first and only rarely affects the nipple. Paget’s disease usually occurs in one breast, while other skin conditions usually affect both breasts. Approximately half of patients with Paget’s disease will also have an underlying lump. Most of these will be invasive cancers, which means the cancer has the potential to spread outside the breast. Where there is no lump, most will be non-invasive or in-situ cancers. This means that the cancer cells are inside the milk ducts and have not developed the ability to spread either within or outside the breast.