What on earth is Paget's Disease of the Nipple?
Firstly let me tell you I'm not an expert on Early Breast Cancer, but am becoming very familiar with a rare form of breast cancer called Paget's Disease of the Nipple.
Never heard of it? Me either until a few weeks ago.....
So in the middle of January 2013, I had recently turned 52 and was in good health, not on any medication, perfect blood pressure, slightly high cholesterol but on the good side, and a high-ish sugar level, but nothing majorly wrong.
Since then I have undergone several mammograms, an ultrasound, a biopsy, two operations including a partial central mastectomy, and have just undergone my first session of chemotherapy - all within 2 months.
What is Paget's Disease of the Nipple?
"Paget's Disease of the Nipple is a rare form of breast cancer that affects the nipple and the area around the nipple (the areola) and is commonly associated with an invasive cancer elsewhere in the breast." According to Cancer Australia.
Around 2 out of every 100 cases of breast cancer involves Paget's disease of the nipple, so trust me, I can't just be like everyone else and get normal breast cancer I have to get a rare type!!!
What are the Signs & Symptoms?
The main signs of Paget's disease of the nipple is a change in the nipple and/or areola, including:
the nipple area might become hard, lumpy or crusty - it may look like dermatitis or eczema
the nipple area might appear red or angry-looking
there may be an ulcer
the nipple might flatten out, or turn inwards (invert)
there may be a discharge or bleeding from the nipple
the area might feel itchy or sore
there may be a lump in the same breast
As for me? Well for a couple of months I'd noticed a slight rash around my left nipple, that came and went, it was itchy and I did think it was like a dermatitis. After all, it was summer, hot, and if I put Paw Paw ointment on it went away. The nipple was a little flatter, but that was it.
As far as I was concerned there was nothing to worry about, it was just a heat rash, but I was wrong, and it worries me that 1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with early breast cancer, and if my blog encourages more women to go and get a bi-annual mammogram and stops them having to go through what I am then it will all be worth it.
My blogs will go through my journey, but I want to expand on the health theme and include things like natural products, healthy foods, the types of services and organisations to help people (and their friends and family) deal with a diagnosis of cancer.
This blog has been a bit full of dry information, usually my style is a bit more chatty, as though we are sitting chatting over a coffee or a glass of wine (oops, can't drink either at the moment....more on that soon...) but for those who, like me, had never heard of this rare breast cancer I thought it was important to get some facts out of the way soon.
I'll try and write a new blog a few times a week, but you will have to excuse me if I'm a bit erratic as I'm not sure yet how well I'm going to feel on a day to day basis, but I'll do my best.
Catch you soon,
Posted by Janine Keast at 21:34
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.