The National Cancer Institute defines Paget’s disease as a rare form of cancer occurring in the breast, where the cancer-causing cells accumulate in and around the areola and nipple. Generally, the cells affect the milk-carrying tubes in the nipple and the surface of the areola. Due to this, you will experience itchy, redness, and scaly of areola and nipple.(1)
You may hear it as Paget’s disease of the nipple or mammary Paget disease. The rare form of cancer occurs in both men and women. However, women have a higher chance of exposure. The average age of diagnosis is 57 years. It is unclear how it occurs but could be due to underlying breast cancer such as invasive breast cancer.(2)
Who Is Prone To Paget’s Disease of The Breast?
Doctor’s do not have established proof about the cause of the disease. However, the widely accepted theory talks about already present breast cancer, where the cancer-causing cells move to the areola region. These cells then venture into the milk-ducts and head to the surface. Likewise, another theory states that the chances of occurrences are independent. It means that it does not require existing cancer-causing cells to develop.
The risk factor or those at risk for developing Paget’s disease is the same as that of any other breast cancer. The following are the factors that make anyone susceptible to the disease:(3)
Age: If you are aging and currently above 50 years, the chances are high for breast cancer development.
History Of Breast Cancer: If you have a past medical history of cancer in one breast, then the chances of developing Paget’s diseases increases drastically in the other.
History Of Breast Abnormalities: The development of the disease increases if you had atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ. Likewise, a few benign breast conditions also pose a threat to the development of the disease.
Family History: The risk factor increases when your family members had a history of cancer. It includes ovarian or breast cancer in your mother, sister, or daughter, and even a case of cancer in your father or brother.
Inherited Gene Mutation: Any defect in BRCA1 and BRCA2 puts you at a high risk of accumulating Paget’s disease. However, such defects occur less than 1% in every ten people.
Dense Tissue: Mammography reveals the presence of dense tissue in breasts. Any occurrence of the same increases the risk factor significantly.
Weight: Weight is another adding factor to the development of the disease. The risk factor increases if you continue to put on weight even after menopause.
Radiation Exposure: You are likely to develop Paget’s disease if you underwent radiation therapy to cure cancer previously as a child or adult.
Replacement Of Hormone: Consuming estrogen hormone after menopause increases the chance of the occurrence of the disease.
Alcohol: The risk factor increases drastically with an increase in the consumption of alcohol.
Race: While women are likely to develop Paget’s disease than men, it is high in white women than Hispanic or black.
Is There A Blood Test For Paget’s Disease of The Breast?
Diagnosing Paget’s disease is possible with the assistance of clinical and physical examination. Additional procedures include identifying the physical findings, learning about the patient’s medical history, and opting for a variety of tests. It is possible to confuse the illness with other skin conditions. Therefore, one can expect a delay in diagnosis.
Clinical tests include conducting a blood test, biopsy, mammography, and microscopic evaluation of nipple discharge to study cancerous cells.
The risk factors mentioned above are some of the crucial ways to self-assess for Paget’s disease of the breast. However, reaching out to a doctor is preferable, as they will study and examine thoroughly by carrying out a clinical trial consisting of a blood test along with other specialized tests before determining the condition and advancement.