Nope, I had never heard of it either. But that didn’t stop me from getting it. The pathology report yesterday showed that the cancer in my left breast was a very small occurence of Paget’s disease, a rare form of breast cancer. It is, however, associated with a larger tumor of in situ, invasive, or infiltrating breast cancers (the more popular kinds) in the same breast 95% of the time. So it’s an important cancer, nonetheless, as it can lead to discovery of a much larger tumor. Here’s the definition of Paget’s, from breastcancer.org:
Paget’s disease of the nipple: This is a type of breast cancer that involves the nipple. The cancer cells start in the milk-pipes or ducts at the surface of the nipple. As the cancer grows on top of the nipple, it forms a dry, crusty, bumpy rash. It can cause itching and burning around the nipple. Sometimes it can also cause oozing or bleeding. Some doctors might think it is just eczema or dry skin. But if you have these changes, and they don’t go away, be sure to see a breast specialist.
I had none of these symptoms. It was either caught before the cancer spread to the surface, or the chemotherapy that I was taking to treat the IBC in the right breast shrank this tumor as well (quite possible, as chemotherapy affects the whole body, not just one tumor). We’ll never know.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When doing your monthly breast self-exam, if you notice that ANYTHING has changed since last month, or ANYTHING is different in one breast but not the other, call your doctor. Make an appointment. And if it doesn’t go away with antibiotics, go see a specialist. It could just save your life.