Sunday, December 04, 2005


Paget's disease is a form of breast cancer which initially appears as a skin rash and may therefore be easily misdiagnosed at the beginning. Like all forms of breast cancer, early diagnosis saves lives. Therefore it is imperative for women, particularly if over 50, to be aware of the symptoms and not neglect them..

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Paget's disease of the breast

This information is about a condition called Paget’s disease of the breast. It should ideally be read with CancerBACUP’s general information about cancer of the breast or DCIS.

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Paget's disease of the breast
Causes of Paget's disease
Signs and symptoms
Research trials
Your feelings

Paget’s disease of the breast is an eczema-like change in the skin of the nipple, and 90% of women who have it have an underlying breast cancer. The underlying breast cancer may be an invasive breast cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). In DCIS the cancer cells are completely contained within the milk ducts.

Around half of the women who have Paget’s disease will have a breast lump that can be felt at the time it is diagnosed.

Paget’s disease occurs in about 1–2% of all women with breast cancer. Usually, it first appears as a scaly, red rash affecting the nipple and sometimes the dark area of skin surrounding the nipple (the areola). The rash always affects the nipple first and may then affect the areola. It does not go away and may become sore. The area may bleed slightly.

Paget’s disease usually occurs in women in their fifties, but it can occur at an earlier or later age. It can affect men but this is extremely rare.

The cause of Paget's disease is unknown, but certain women seem to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This includes women who have never had children, or had them late in life, women who started their periods at a young age or who had a late menopause, and women who have a strong family history of breast cancer.

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