A rare form of breast cancer, Pagetís disease of the nipple represents approximately 1% of all breast cancers. Pagetís disease develops in the milk ducts, spreads to the nipple skin, and then to the areola, the dark circle around the nipple. Many women with Pagetís disease are diagnosed at the stage of in situ carcinoma or infiltrating breast carcinoma.
The nipple and areola of a woman suffering with Pagetís disease often appear scaly, red and crusted. Bleeding and oozing from Pagetís disease are also common, as are itching and a burning sensation.
Despite these unsettling symptoms, the prognosis for women with Pagetís disease is better if a lump has not been detected in the breast tissue and a biopsy has determined that there is no invasive cancer.