Overlooked Sign of Breast Cancer: Paget's Disease - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Overlooked Sign of Breast Cancer: Paget's Disease

Kaye Cole Kaye Cole
Dr. Mark Arrendondo, oncologist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Dr. Mark Arrendondo, oncologist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center

When a woman thinks of breast cancer detection, she is usually looking for a lump or going to have a mammogram, or both.

Well, a lesser known sign of breast cancer could be right in front of you and you may not even realize the threat.

Here's what you need to know about Paget's disease.

Signs of Paget's disease include a red, inflamed area on the breast, particularly around the nipple.

But what's tricky about it is that it could be misconstrued as something else, like a skin disorder, leaving a patient wondering 'what's going on?'

When Kaye Cole noticed something peculiar on her breast, she went to several different doctors to try and figure out what it could be.

On her first round of doctors' visits, they all told her it was no big deal.

So it was months before she went again.

Then, she says, "About October, I started having bloody discharge, and I thought it had to be something."

That's when she had a biopsy, which revealed the abnormality to be Paget's disease, an often unnoticed sign of breast cancer.

Dr. Mark Arrendondo, oncologist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says what makes Paget's serious is "they are bona fide cancer cells."

And that means they can travel to other organs, just like cancer cells already within the breast, or anywhere else.

However, Dr. Arrendondo says what is beneath the inflamed area is what to focus on, because that is what will determine how serious the cancer is.

Other signs of Paget's disease are itching and tingling of the nipple, and irregular discharge.

Kaye Cole says even though it took months to find out what it was, she's glad she was stubborn enough to not give up, and she urges others to do the same.

Paget's is often treated with surgery.  Doctors remove the nipple, and in Kaye Cole's case, have the patient then go through radiation treatment.

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