Paget's disease of the breast is a rare disorder of the nipple-areola complex often associated with an underlying in situ or invasive carcinoma. Eczematoid changes of the nipple-areola complex and persistent soreness or itching should raise suspicion of this disease. The histogenesis of Paget's disease of the breast continues to be debated and is important when considering treatment options. The epidermotropic theory suggests that Paget's cells are ductal carcinoma cells that have migrated from an underlying carcinoma of the breast parenchyma to the epidermis of the nipple. The in situ transformation theory has been proposed to explain the development of this disorder in patients in whom an underlying mammary carcinoma is not found or when there is an underlying carcinoma anatomically remote from the nipple-areola complex. Paget's cells are believed to arise as malignant cells in the epidermis of the nipple independent from any other pathologic process within the breast parenchyma. The current standard treatment of biopsy-proven Paget's disease involves mastectomy, although some studies have proposed the use of breast conservation therapy for patients in whom an underlying breast cancer cannot be located. We propose a treatment algorithm for patients presenting with Paget's disease of the breast.
- Paget's disease
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