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What Happens If Paget’s Disease Of The Breast Is Left Untreated & When to See A Doctor For It?

Paget’s disease of the breast, as the name implies, occurs in the chest, especially targeting the areola and the nipples. You will notice its presence when there is a change in the appearance of the region around the nipple and the areola. The chances of occurrence are high in women than in men. However, only 5% of the total women possess the ability to accumulate this type of disease.(1)

What Happens If Paget’s Disease Of The Breast Is Left Untreated?

Many individuals with Paget’s disease of the breast show an early sign of breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It is present in the breast, and finding the exact location is possible with mammography and other clinical tests.

Doctors grade ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS as low, intermediate, and high grade. They position the patient under these categories based on the outlook or results obtained after observing the cells under the microscope. However, with Paget’s disease, the chances are that the individual falls into the high-grade category.

DCIS is the situation where the cancer cells developed in the milk ducts and are still in their place of origin. The cells did not improve the ability to move outside the milk ducts. Once they develop the capability to spread, they can move to the surrounding breast tissue or other parts of the body.

Identifying the Paget’s disease of the breast in the initial stages is essential. As they cannot spread to other parts, treating it will provide a better prognosis. However, if there is no treatment or left untreated, the cancer cells develop the capability to move from their origin, the milk ducts, to the surrounding breast tissue causing invasive breast cancer. Although the grade, size, and type can predict if the cells cause invasive breast cancer, there is no precise method to tell that it will happen.(1)

Paget’s disease of the breast is a condition that initially appears as “eczema” and changes the surface of the skin on the nipples before reaching the areola. The first phase includes changes to the skin, where you will notice reddish scaling, and abnormal thickening of the lesions on the nipple before spreading to the areas of the areola. A few affected individuals also show abnormal discharge from the nipples. Additional symptoms include burning sensation and itching.

There is a possibility for an improvement in the symptoms before they begin to worsen. Paget’s disease affects only one breast (unilateral). It is rare to see someone have the condition affecting both the breasts (bilateral).(2)

When To See A Doctor For Paget’s Disease Of The Breast?

You can see a doctor when you identify the following symptoms:

  • Burning sensation, itchy, and tingling sensation in and around the nipples and areola region
  • Increased sensitivity and pain
  • Scaling and thickening of the skin
  • Flattening of the nipple
  • Abnormal discharge from the nipple

Doctors often mistake the presence of Paget’s disease of the breast for eczema due to its appearance. It takes months for many people to have accurate information and diagnosis results.(3)

Diagnosing Paget’s Disease Of The Breast

The following procedure involved in identifying and confirming the presence of the disease:

  • Physical examination with close inspection of the nipple region
  • Mammography to check breast tissue and the presence of cancer in other regions
  • Breast MRI or ultrasound to obtain additional images of the breast and look for cancer cells in breast
  • Minor surgery to remove a small tissue from areola and nipple and conduct a biopsy.(3)


You may feel isolated and lonely when you know about Paget’s disease of the breast. However, diagnosing it in initial stages helps you to overcome the same. The appropriate treatment and support will you get through the phase without exerting additional stress. Sharing your feelings and speaking with an expert also helps in overcoming the illness with a positive attitude.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 28, 2020

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