A Rash Decision
Date Added: Mar. 29, 2002
Cancer is one of the most frightening diseases of modern times. Breast cancer is one of the leading killers of women. Education is our best defense against the disease. Unfortunately, this warning message does much more to frighten than it does to educate and underlies the importance of seeking professional advice on all matters of health.
Subject: Please Read
A friend sent me this important information a rare kind of breast cancer that is often misdiagnosed.
Along my walk so far I've met two women that have had it-one is no longer with us. Please read this and pass it on to all the women in your address book. thank you. In Nov. I lost my sister (Betty Botts of Troy, Al.) to a rare kind of breast cancer. She developed a rash on her breast similar to that of young mothers who are nursing. Because her mammogram had been clear, the Dr. treated her with antibiotics for infections. After 2 rounds and it continued to get worse her Dr. sent her for another mammogram and this time showed a mass.
A biopsy found a fast growing malignancy; chemo was started in order to shrink the growth; then mastectomy; then a full round of chemo; then radiation. After about 9 months of intense treatment she was given a clean bill of health.
One year of living each day to its fullest-then it returned to the liver area. She took treatments and decided that she wanted quality of life, not the after effects of chemo. We had 5 great months and she planned each detail of the final days. After just a few days of needing morphine, she slipped away saying she had done what God had sent her into the world to do and now it was her time to go. I still have tears as I write, but our message would be-like the one below-to be alert to anything that is not normal-and be persistent in getting help as soon as possible.
Ladies, take note:
This is a rare form of breast cancer, and is on the outside of the breast, on the nipple and aureola. It appeared as a rash which later became a lesion with a crusty outer edge. I would not have ever suspected it to be breast cancer but it was. My nipple never seemed any different to me, but The rash bothered me so went to my doctor for that.
Sometimes it itched and was sore, but other than that it didn't really bother me. It was just ugly and a nuisance, and could not be cleared up with all the creams prescribed by my doctor and dermatologist for the dermatitis on my eyes just prior to this outbreak. They seemed a little concerned but did not warn me it could be cancerous. Now I suspect there are not many women out there who know a lesion or rash on the nipple or aureola can be breast cancer.
What are the symptoms? Mine started out as a single red pimple on the aureola. One of the biggest problems with Paget's disease of the nipple is that the symptoms appear to be harmless. It is frequently thought to be a skin inflammation or infection, leading to unfortunate delays in detection and care. The symptoms include:
1. A persistent redness, oozing, and crusting of your nipple causing it to itch and burn. ( As mine did not itch or burn much, and had no oozing I was aware of, but it did have a crust along the outer edge on one side).
2. A sore on your nipple that will not heal.(Mine was on the aureola area with a whitish thick area in the center of the nipple).
3. Usually only one nipple is affected.
How is it diagnosed? Your doctor will do a physical exam and should suggest having a mammogram of both breasts done immediately. Even though the redness, oozing and crusting closely resemble dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), your doctor should suspect cancer if the sore is only on one breast.
Your doctor should order a biopsy of your sore to confirm what is going on.
They will take a sample of your breast tissue in that area to test for cancer. If the cancer is only in the nipple and not in the breast, your doctor may recommend just removing the nipple and surrounding tissue or suggest radiation treatments. Had my doctor caught mine right away, instead of flaking it off as dermatitis, perhaps they could have saved my breast, and it wouldn't have gone to my lymph nodes.
This message should be taken seriously and passed on to as many of your friends as possible; it could save someone's life. My breast cancer has spread and metastasized to my bones after receiving mega doses of chemotherapy, 28 treatments of radiation and taking tamaxofin. If this had been diagnosed in the beginning as breast cancer and treated right away, perhaps it would not have spread. I did try to spread the word through Rosie O'Donnell show on breast cancer awareness, but it failed to trigger importance enough to announce on her show last year. This is sad as women are not aware of Paget's disease.
If by passing this around on the e-mail, we can make others aware of it, and its potential danger we are helping women everywhere.
Please, if you can, take a moment to cut and paste this information into an e-mail and share it with a friend. It only takes a moment yet the results could save a life.
The message above is a compilation of comments and warnings from an unknown number of authors and revisionists. Tracking it to its source has proven impossible. Yet, the medical condition it describes is real.
Paget's Disease of the breast is a very rare form of cancer that affects women and men alike. Most who have it also have an underlying form of ductal breast cancer and only 1 to 2 percent of those who have the latter will develop the former. Only in rare cases is the cancer confined to the nipple and about half of the women who have Paget's disease of the nipple will also have a palpable breast lump.
Paget's disease of the breast should not be confused with Paget's disease of the bone, a metabolic bone disease.
According to MayoClinic.com, signs and symptoms of Paget's disease of the breast may include:
According to CancerBACUP.org.uk, symptoms may also include an inversion of the nipple. Paget's disease of the nipple can be very difficult to diagnose because its symptoms closely mimic those of common skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. The most common way to confirm a diagnosis of Paget's disease is through cell biopsy, though mammogram, sonogram and scrape cytology may also be used.
Treatment of Paget's disease depends on the severity of the underlying cancer, but may include lumpectomy (removal of the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue) or masectomy (extensive removal of the breast tissue). For some, surgery will effectively remove the cancer, but others may require radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy.
MayoClinic.com also advises that early detection is key and begins with a breast self-exam. If you detect a lump or skin irritation in this area that persists for more than a month, see your doctor.
The American Cancer Society has received numerous inquiries about this chain letter since it began circulating early in 2002. In an advisory on their site, they call the apocryphal accounts given in the text plausible, but advise caution:
This email is actually a very plausible description of a case of this rare condition... However, remember that most of the time, these breast changes are not cancer. American Cancer Society Medical Editor Ted Gansler says, “I do not doubt that some cases of Paget's disease might be initially overlooked and attributed to a benign skin condition. Although this is a chain e-mail and "areola" is consistently misspelled as "aureola", most of the medical information is accurate, and I wouldn't call this a rumor.”
Nonetheless, BreakTheChain.org and many cancer experts recommend strongly against relying solely on e-mail chain letters for medical advice or information about medical conditions. Chain letters are almost always anonymous, untraceable and often contain incorrect or unreliable information. Whenever matters of health are at issue, there is no substitute for consulting a qualified medical professional before acting. The lesson is to be your own advocate and to communicate what you know to the doctor and get answers to questions you may have. Break this Chain!
References: Mayo Clinic.com, CancerBACUP.org.uk, American Cancer Society