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Dermatology Online Journal

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Unusual case of Paget disease of the nipple diagnosed by nipple scraping cytology


Paget disease of the nipple is a rare presentation of breast cancer. It is sometimes mistaken for a benign skin condition of the nipple and surrounding areola, which can significantly delay the diagnosis and treatment. In over 90% of cases there is an underlying carcinoma, either ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or invasive breast cancer. We present a rare case of Paget disease of the nipple without the typical characteristics, detected by simple nipple scraping technique. A 62-year-old woman presented with a small fissure on the left nipple with scant clear nipple discharge. There were no other changes to the nipple-areola complex. The mammography and ultrasound were unremarkable. However, nipple scraping provided the immediate cytological diagnosis of Paget disease. Breast MRI with core biopsy showed high grade ductal carcinoma in situ with suggestion of microinvasion, confirmed histologically after mastectomy. Nipple scraping is a simple and inexpensive technique, which can be used in the office without anesthesia and with minimal discomfort to the patient. It could allow for significantly earlier cancer detection and treatment at the earliest stage of breast cancer. However, if the results are negative, full thickness biopsy may be needed if clinically indicated.

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