Paget’s disease of the nipple in a population based cohort
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Background Paget’s disease of the nipple is a rare form of breast cancer characterised by the presence of intraepidermal tumour cells. It is often associated with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and/or invasive cancer in the breast parenchyma. We have studied the presentation and symptoms of Paget’s disease, local control and breast cancer corrected survival following breast conserving surgery or mastectomy. Patients and methods The study is based on 223 women with histological verified Paget’s disease of the nipple diagnosed between 1976 and 2001 at 13 Swedish hospitals. All women´s charts were reviewed. All recurrences and deaths were registered. A comparison was made for differences in breast cancer-corrected survival (BCS) and disease-free survival (DFS) in univariate analyses. Results The median follow-up was 12 (4–28) years. In a vast majority (98%), the main presenting symptom was eczema or ulceration of the nipple. The diagnosis of an underlying breast malignancy was established in 79% of the women before surgery. A cone excision of the nipple-areola complex was performed in 43 women and 169 women had a mastectomy. Eleven elderly women were not operated. One hundred and seventeen women had a non-invasive Paget of which 40 had an underlying DCIS. Invasive cancer was seen in 68 women. In 38 cases the histopathological report did not state if the tumour was invasive or not. Thirty-three women died from breast cancer. In operated women BCS and DFS at 10 years were 87% and 82%, respectively. The 10-year BCS for non-operated patients (n = 11) was 34%. At 10 years, the cumulative local recurrence rate was 9%, 8% among women undergoing mastectomy and 16% among those treated with breast conserving surgery. In univariate analysis the type of surgery, cone excision or mastectomy, had no statistically significant impact on BCS or DFS. Risk factors for breast cancer death and recurrence were having an underlying invasive cancer compared with an in situ carcinoma and having a palpable tumour in the breast. Conclusion The main presenting symptoms were eczema or ulceration of the nipple. Patients with non invasive Pagets disease of the nipple had an excellent cancer outcome. Selected patients with Paget’s disease of the nipple were treated with breast conserving surgery with survival rates similar to those achieved with mastectomy.