Peau d'orange describes the characteristic appearance of skin overlying a breast carcinoma. It is due to invasion of the axillary lymphatics by tumour producing obstruction and subsequently, oedema of the overlying skin. This creates an orange peel appearance.
Overlying a breast lump, this appearance is almost pathognomonic of carcinoma. The differential diagnosis is inflammatory breast cancer where localised oedema may result from obliteration of cutaneous lymphatics by tumour cells.
Last reviewed 01/2018