The rare breast cancer disease – Paget’s disease (Paget’s disease of the nipple or Mammary Paget’s disease) is often confused with the two common skin conditions eczema and psoriasis. All which are very similar, and which often force doctors to send their patients to specialists for correct diagnosis.
However, there are certain detectable differences between both Paget’s disease and other skin conditions that many women can look for when self-checking the breasts for cancer. Usually common skin conditions that affect the breasts are nothing to be worried about; however, with Paget’s disease, it is different.
1. Eczema – is a relatively common skin complain; although, it is considered a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin that consists of dry skin with red patches, together with an often itchy sensation that tends to provoke the condition to become worse when scratched (eczema rarely affects the nipple).
2. Psoriasis – is similar to eczema, but with patches of raised skin that are usually red in color, together with thick silvery scales (often considered a more hereditary disease [one in every two psoriasis cases is usually hereditary]) that appears on the skin (doctors are still unable to explain what causes it).
3. Paget’s disease – can affect both men and women (men in more extreme cases), and is considered a rather deadly form of cancer. Not only is the disease dangerous in itself, but 50% of women who suffer from it are also diagnosed with having one or more breast tumors (ductal carcinoma in-situ, or invasive breast cancer [stages I – III]) within the same breast where the disease is present.
Symptoms – are usually in the form of a red scaly rash that affects the nipple (an extension to the areola [the dark skin circle around the nipple] may often be present too) that may itch or burn. With Paget’s disease – malignant cells are usually present in the epidermis (the surface layer of skin) of both the areola, and the nipple (malignant cells may be found either singularly or formed in small groups).
Also an inverted nipple (pulled inwards) together with a nipple discharge are both common signs that a rash is more than just a common skin complaint. However, in comparison with the disease and more common skin complaints, it usually only affects one breast (most skin complains affect the two breasts).
The three main dangers of Paget’s disease are as follows:
1. Is because Paget’s disease is so similar to both eczema and psoriasis; it may well get mis-diagnosed.
2. It is because of the presence of malignant (cancerous) cells.
3. Around 50% of women sufferers may also be diagnosed with tumors of the breast.
Note: All three of these dangers may result in either a woman losing a breast, or becoming just another statistic of breast cancer fatality. Regular self-checks are seen prudent for early diagnosis of breast cancer. Any doubt (even minor) over anything unusual found: within, on, or around (the nipple area) the breast, being put to rest by an early consultation with either a doctor or health adviser.