I was surprised to learn that inflammatory breast cancer, while rare, is not the rarest of breast cancers. That distinction instead may well belong to Paget’s disease of the nipple.
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.
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Ironic huh? Been following you since you started your journey my lovely and today I get the call. My mother has Pagets (found out yesterday, but today it has a name) and the first thing that popped into my head was you.
And I came here to get the right information.
Oh, Kelley. The good news is that Paget’s is a little bitty cancer. The bad news is that it often is associated with other cancer, so it’s best to have it taken care of right away. But mine was so small that it’s not even being irradiated … so hopefully your mother’s will be small and easy too. Hugs to you.
I don’t know what to say
Has anyone been tested for the BRCA gene being so young?? see http://www.facingourrisk.org
[…] continued weekly treatments for 6 months. A double mastectomy (wherein a second cancer was found, Paget’s, in the opposite breast) and 7 weeks of daily radiation followed. Although harsh, this treatment […]