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Nipple cancer


Cancer of the nipple, or Paget's disease of the nipple, is a rare disease that affects women over the age of 40. It is a particular form of cancer that develops in the superficial part of the mammary gland. In most cases, cancer of the underlying breast is found, but this disease can sometimes develop by itself. It should not be confused with another condition called simply "Paget's disease", which is a bone disease with increased size and deformation of certain bones.


Cancer of the nipple usually occurs on one nipple and is manifested by:
- redness around the nipple;
- itching;
- thickness/hardness;
- lesions that may initially appear to be eczema;
- nipple discharge;
- crustiness.


The diagnosis of cancer of the nipple is difficult to make because the symptoms are initially similar to those of eczema. An examination is valuable because it will allow the HCP to know if there is a family history of breast cancer. Palpation of the breasts is important to permit the identification of any associated mass. In the case of persistent evolving skin lesions, an ultrasound or mammography, a breast x-ray, will be realized. A biopsy of the nipple is also sometimes necessary. In the presence of cancer of the mammary gland a staging, - i.e. the implementation of additional tests to verify the presence of cancer cells that may spread to other organs -, is required in order to adopt the best treatment.


Treatment depends on association or not of an underlying cancer and progression of the tumor. In general, a partial or total removal of the breast is necessary. This is frequently associated with the removal of lymph nodes in the armpit to prevent the spread of cancer cells. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy sometimes will follow the surgery.


Nipple cancer cannot be prevented. However, a breast cancer screening is highly recommended since this disease is frequently associated with breast cancer. Screening of breast cancer is organized for all women between 50 and 75 years. It consists of a mammogram of both breasts, performed every two years with a reading of the x-rays by two different radiologists.

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