Preventing Paget's disease of the nipple  

A number of factors can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, including Paget's disease of the nipple.

Diet and lifestyle

Exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet are known to help prevent many forms of cancer, as well as other serious health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Studies have looked at the link between breast cancer and diet and, although there are no definite conclusions at the moment, there are benefits for women who maintain a healthy weight, do regular exercise and who have a low intake of saturated fat and alcohol.

It has been suggested that exercising regularly (a minimum of 150 minutes or 2 hours 30 minutes a week) can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by up to a third.

If you have been through the menopause (when your monthly periods stop), it's particularly important you are not overweight or obese. This is because these conditions cause more oestrogen to be produced, which can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Read more about preventing breast cancer.


Studies have shown that women who breastfeed are statistically less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don't.

The reasons are not fully understood, but it could be because women don't ovulate as regularly while they are breastfeeding and oestrogen levels remain stable.


In June 2013, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) announced that two medications, called tamoxifen and raloxifene, would be available on the NHS for women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Either tamoxifen or raloxifene can be used in women who have been through the menopause, but only tamoxifen should be used in women who haven't.

These medications may not be suitable if in the past you have had blood clots or womb cancer, or if you have an increased risk of developing these problems in the future. Women who have already had a mastectomy to remove both breasts won't be offered these medications because their risk of developing breast cancer is so small.

A course of treatment with tamoxifen or raloxifene will usually involve taking a tablet every day for five years.

Raloxifene can cause side effects including flu-like symptoms, hot flushes and leg cramps. Side effects of tamoxifen can include hot flushes and sweats, changes to your periods and nausea and vomiting.

Your chances of giving birth to a child with birth defects increases while you're taking tamoxifen, so you'll be advised to stop taking it at least two months before trying for a baby. The medication can also increase your risk of blood clots so you should stop taking it six weeks before any planned surgery.

Currently, these two medications are not licensed for the purpose of reducing the risk of breast cancer in women with an increased risk of developing the condition. However, they can still be used if you understand the benefits and risks and your doctor believes the treatment will be helpful.

For more information, read ‘Drugs to be offered to women at high risk of breast cancer’.

Breast screening

Breast screening can pick up breast cancer before it forms a lump. The procedure uses mammograms, where X-rays are taken, to create an image of the inside of your breasts.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women in the UK who are 50 years of age or over. The NHS has recently extended the breast screening age range so that all women who are 47-73 years of age will be eligible for breast screening.

NHS breast screening is not usually available for women under 47 years of age. This is because younger women tend to have denser breast tissue which makes mammograms less effective at identifying abnormalities.

Speak to your GP if you are below screening age, worried about changes in your breasts, or have a family history of breast cancer.

Read more information about breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer screening

See what happens during a mammogram. Plus, the benefits of mammography and ultrasound are explained.

Media last reviewed: 14/07/2015

Next review due: 14/07/2017

Breast cancer symptoms

Not all breast changes mean breast cancer, but some do. Know what to look out for, such as changes in shape

Page last reviewed: 01/08/2014

Next review due: 01/11/2016