Paget's disease of the breast affects your nipple and usually the skin (areola) surrounding it. It's easy to mistake the signs and symptoms of Paget's disease of the breast for skin irritation (dermatitis) or another noncancerous (benign) skin condition.
Possible signs and symptoms of Paget's disease of the breast include:
- Flaky or scaly skin on your nipple
- Crusty, oozing or hardened skin resembling eczema on the nipple, areola or both
- A tingling or burning sensation
- Straw-colored or bloody nipple discharge
- A flattened or turned-in (inverted) nipple
- A lump in the breast
- Thickening skin on the breast
Signs and symptoms usually occur in one breast only. The disease typically starts in the nipple and may spread to the areola and other areas of the breast.
The skin changes may come and go early on, or respond to topical treatment, making it appear as if your skin is healing. On average, women experience signs and symptoms for several months before getting a diagnosis.
When to see a doctor
Check your nipple and areola on both breasts on a regular basis, such as during breast self-exams. If you feel a lump, or if you experience itching or skin irritation that persists for more than a month, see your doctor.
If you're being treated for a skin injury on your breast, and the condition doesn't go away with treatment, make a follow-up appointment with your doctor. You may need a biopsy — a procedure that collects a small tissue sample for microscopic analysis — to evaluate the affected area.
Mar. 27, 2013
- AskMayoExpert. How is Paget disease of the breast treated? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. What are the clinical findings of Paget disease of the breast? Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- AskMayoExpert. Paget disease of the breast: Key facts. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Paget disease of the breast. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/paget-breast. Accessed Feb. 11, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed Feb. 10, 2013.
- Karakas C. Paget's disease of the breast. Journal of Carcinogenesis. 2011;10:31.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Feb. 10, 2013.
- Dominici LS, et al. Current surgical approach to Paget's disease. American Journal of Surgery. 2012;204:18.
- Breast cancer risk in American women fact sheet. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/probability-breast-cancer. Accessed Feb. 10, 2013.
- What is breast cancer? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-what-is-breast-cancer. Accessed Feb. 10, 2013.
- How is breast cancer treated? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/overviewguide/breast-cancer-overview-treating-surgery. Accessed Feb. 11, 2013.
- Can breast cancer be prevented? American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/overviewguide/breast-cancer-overview-prevention. Accessed Feb. 11, 2013.
- Coping with cancer in everyday life. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/emotionalsideeffects/copingwithcancerineverydaylife/index. Accessed Feb. 21, 2013.
- After a breast cancer diagnosis: Questions to ask your doctor. Cancercare. http://www.cancercare.org/publications/46-after_a_breast_cancer_diagnosis_questions_to_ask_your_doctor. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.
- Breast cancer: Coping with your changing feelings. Cancercare. http://www.cancercare.org/publications/88-breast_cancer_coping_with_your_changing_feelings. Accessed Feb. 25, 2013.