Paget's Disease of the Breast
Paget disease of the breast is a combination of scaly skin changes of the nipple resembling eczema and an underlying cancer of the breast. The nipple is inflamed because of the presence of Paget’s cells. These large irregular cells are themselves not cancerous, but they are almost always associated with a cancer in the breast. The reason for the Paget’s cells is still a mystery. In Paget’s disease, the nipple and areola (the area surrounding the nipple) are typically red, inflamed and itchy. There may be crusting, bleeding, or ulceration. The nipple may be inverted (turned inwards) and there may be a discharge from the nipple. There is a lump that can be palpated (felt) in the breast in almost half of cases. Paget’s disease of the breast accounts for a small but significant minority (1 to 4%) of all breast tumors. It usually occurs in women in their fifties, but it can occur at a later age. Its occurrence in men is a great rarity. It is sometimes called Paget’s disease of the nipple.