Breast calcifications are small clusters of calcium deposits that develop in breast tissue, most commonly in women over They are too small to feel, but can show up on a mammogram as small, bright, white spots. While calcifications are usually harmless, they can be a sign that a woman is at risk for developing breast cancer and needs more testing. For instance, if the cluster of calcifications is tight or they are noted to present as lines of tiny calcifications, the radiologist may recommend additional mammogram images for further testing. The patient can talk to her doctor to learn more about her specific situation.
Microcalcifications : These are smaller white spots on a mammogram. Talk about it here. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Also, your doctor may recommend screening with breast MRI in addition to mammography. In a CC Cranio-Caudal view the lobular calcifications often appear round and smudgy, and scattered bilaterally. They are usually found during a routine breast x-ray mammogram. Latest from the Online Community.
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A doctor who specialises in Cluster of microcalcium deposits in breast cells pathologist looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Calcifications and Cancer Dr. Young nudes ls magazine just been diagnosed I'm having treatment I've finished treatment Older people Teens and young adults. These deposits are associated with benign noncancerous conditions and do not require a biopsy. By: Michael O'Leary. Evaluation of breast microcalcifications. When my classifications were found in feb i was told that they "looked" suspicious. Definition By Mayo Clinic Staff. If you're struggling to find what you need, call our Support line on 7 days a week, 8am-8pm. It helps to know the characteristics of calcifications and how they Cluster of microcalcium deposits in breast determine the meaning of any changes on your mammogram. What's happening near you? Were you actually able to do more strenous things quickly afterward? If something, that little voice in your head, is telling you to get a biopsy, then I feel you should. A computed-aided diagnosis CAD system is useful when evaluating a large volume of examinations, although CAD systems may sometimes fail to pick up amorphous calcifications.
In this article, we look at the causes of breast calcifications, and we discuss what may happen if they show up on a screening test.
- Calcium Specks on Mammograms Most women associate mammograms with screening for tumors or other abnormal masses such as cysts in the breast.
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- Breast calcifications are calcium deposits that appear as white dots on a mammogram.
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Breast microcalcifications are small calcium deposits in the soft tissue of the breast. Indeed, breast microcalcifications are extremely common in women and are almost always a benign non-cancerous breast condition, so try not to worry too much. Breast microcalcifications appear as white dots on mammogram, and are not a cause for concern. Microcalcifications are basically calcium deposits, but they are much smaller and much less common.
In addition, breast microcalcification tends to be the result of a genetic mutations somewhere in the breast tissue, but they can still be due to other conditions. Not the same thing. Micro adds some worry. We just want to let you know that there is a new page with breast microcalcifications information here.
We also have another, older post here. So, they can be round, linear, coarse, granular fine , monomorphic all the same basic shape , or pleomorphic many different shapes.
Also, breast microcalcifications can form in clusters, or groups. In Size , specialists describe breast microcalfications as either large or small, or when in clusters whether the sizes of microcalcifications are homogeneous or not. The Density of breast microcalcifications may be high, low or variable. So in clusters, the pathologist will note the homogeneous or non-homogeneous nature of the density. The Distribution refers to the overall placements of the microcalcifications within the breast image.
Microcalfications can be in single clusters or multifocal, unilateral or bilateral, diffuse, segmental, linear, or regional. So many different factors are taken into account when deciding if a potential lesion is malignant or not.
Radiologists consider breast microcalcifications as a possible very early indicator for breast cancer. However, this may or may not be the case and only histological findings will confirm the suspicion. When evaluating microcalcifications, if there are combinations of findings that tend to lead to the same outcome benign or malignant , it is generally true that those predictions carry even more weight.
It can be said that as a general rule, when the microcalcifications are distributed in diffuse or bilateral arrangements in the acini, or with a round or punctuate shape, or scattered in dense breast tissue, the situation is usually benign. However, if the microcalcifications are in a branching or linear pattern and with irregular borders, or with variable density, or distributed in a segmental or haphazard way, this is highly suspicious of ductal carcinoma in situ, or malignancy in other words.
When the distribution is linear and the form of the microcalcifications are either round, oval, punctuate, or amorphous, this is suspicious. Radiologists view a variable density of distributions closely packed over here, widely spaced over there as suspicious, but not definitive, for breast cancer. But DO have the follow-up or biopsy or ultrasound, if they ask for it. Benign Breast Calcifications: Not Cancer!
Calcifications are common in the breast, and regardless of the cause they will appear on the mammogram. An experienced radiologist can quickly tell the difference from benign breast calcifications and those associated with breast carcinoma. However, epidermal and dermal outer and inner skin layers breast calcifications can take the form of moles with crevices.
Also, sweat glands often develop round or oval, lucent-centered calcifications. Dermal breast calcifications are very common. Vascular calcifications emanating from blood vessels may also develop in the breast. These calcifications tend to be dense, coarse, large, and irregular in shape. Furthermore, dystrophic calcifications develop in stromal tissues, supporting, fibrous tissues. Dystrophic calcifications in the breast can result from many sources, including hematoma, fibrooadenoma, abscess, or may form in the fibrous capsules around implants.
They can also appear post-surgery or post-radiation, or due to fat necrosis. These would include periductal mastitis , or plasma cell mastitis. Plasma cell mastitis is a little bit misleading because the condition has nothing to do with plasma cells, in fact, it is really just inflammation following a bacterial infection.
Lobular carcinoma is much less common than ductal carcinoma to begin with, so any curious calcification in the breast lobules is very unlikely to be something serious.
Benign lobular calcifications commonly appear round in shape, with a relatively high density. They typically have well-defined or pearl-like contours, and have smooth borders. If the lumen of acini are small, they often appear punctate with little spots on them.
In a CC Cranio-Caudal view the lobular calcifications often appear round and smudgy, and scattered bilaterally. This sometimes happens with inexperienced radiologists, or in a team setting where different individuals perform the clinical exam and the mammogram, but fail to communicate.
Parasites are so uncommon in western, industrialized nations that clinicians sometimes fail to consider them as a possibility, but in parts of Asia and Africa, they are not at all uncommon.
Breast parasites might include filariasis, onechocerciasis, and loiasis Loa Loa. Trichinosis is another nasty parasite that can sometimes take hold in the pectoral muscle. Typically, parasitic infections are treated with medications that attack the eggs, so eventually the parasites die off. This can take several weeks, however. Punctate means a tiny dot, like the tap of a sewing needle onto the surface of a sheet of paper.
Whether puncture or punctuation help you remember, it means tiny dot. Punctate calcification or microcalcification is a good benign thing. Even a cluster of punctate calcifications would be benign.
More references for this section are on this page. Breast microcalcifications on mammogram. Breast mammogram showing benign-looking calcifications.
Really only you can make your decision. A number of things were put on hold while dealt with this BC. Full-field digital mammography machines are better than film-screen mammography machines for diagnosing microcalcifications. Mammogram shows linear, railroad track calcification arrows , consistent with vascular calcification. MGUS MGUS monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance is a non-cancerous condition where the body makes an abnormal protein, called a paraprotein.
Cluster of microcalcium deposits in breast. Diffuse or Scattered Clusters
Breast calcifications: Causes, when to see a doctor, and diagnosis
Calcifications are small deposits of calcium that show up on mammograms as bright white specks or dots on the soft tissue background of the breasts. The calcium readily absorbs the X-rays from mammograms. Calcifications typically don't show up on ultrasounds, and they never show up on breast MRIs. Calcifications are a frequent finding on mammograms, and they are especially common after menopause.
In most cases, the process is benign not associated with cancer. As people age, for example, there are more opportunities for benign cell changes that can lead to calcifications. Other benign processes that can lead to calcifications on mammograms include:. Sometimes, though, calcifications can be a marker of underlying cancer development. They may be associated with the presence of ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS , an early-stage cancer that remains inside the duct, or even invasive ductal carcinoma IDC that has spread to the surrounding breast tissues.
If this happens, those cells can harden or petrify and areas of calcium form. When these calcifications show up on a mammogram, they often have suspicious features that require further investigation. If you have calcifications as a new finding on your mammogram, the radiologist reading your images has to figure out whether they have any features suggestive of an underlying cancer.
If so, additional testing is needed. Still, there is a good chance that the calcifications will turn out to be the result of a benign process. Being called back for additional tests can be nerve-wracking, but try not to jump to conclusions until testing is complete.
Certain features of calcifications can help your doctor judge whether they are resulting from a process that is: 1 benign, 2 likely benign, or 3 possibly cancer. These classifications have to do with size, appearance, and how the calcifications are distributed in the breast.
NOTE: If calcifications clearly are located in the skin rather than in the breast tissue itself, no further testing is required. It might be necessary to take additional mammography views to confirm this is the case.
Sometimes, powder or deodorant residue on the skin can show up as calcifications. Also, if the calcifications are clearly inside the blood vessels of the breast, there is no need for more testing. For example, macrocalcifications appearing as well-defined spheres with transparent centers are common in women over They are usually a sign of benign conditions such as fat necrosis dead fat cells or a calcified cyst a cyst that has hardened.
Smooth, rod-like linear calcifications filling individual ducts, often in both breasts, can be a sign of mammary duct ectasia, which occurs when the ducts that lead to the nipple get enlarged and fill with fluid.
Calcifications with fat necrosis can happen as a result of surgery or radiation to the chest area. These can sometimes signal the presence of ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS , with or without an invasive breast cancer present as well.
If calcifications are clustered together or concentrated in one segment of the breast, they tend to be viewed with more concern. They might appear to be developing within a specific system of ducts or collecting in one segment of the breast. They are less concerning if they are scattered throughout an entire breast or even both breasts. Some radiologists consider five or more calcifications in a cluster to be possibly suspicious of an underlying cancer.
However, this is not a definite cutoff number — others recommend additional testing even if there are fewer than five in a cluster. Again, although microcalcifications are more suspicious, clustered macrocalcifications — or a mix of micro- and macrocalcifications — would also need to be checked out.
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to distribution and number, appearance, and size. You and your doctor will make a judgment based on the mammography images and the radiology report. He or she may suggest testing with magnification mammography, which can provide more information about the features of individual particles and clusters. This specialized mammography technique provides more focused views of a specific area of the breast.
It may also involve spot compression, which uses small paddles to flatten the area of the breast that is of concern, which can allow for better views. Depending on your screening facility, you could have magnification mammography right away. The call-back mammogram is referred to as a diagnostic mammogram.
In most cases, your doctor will order a core needle biopsy, which removes a small piece of tissue in the area to check for underlying cancer. The surgeon or radiologist often has to use mammography to guide a needle to the location of the calcifications, since they are too small to be felt.
This is called stereotactic needle biopsy. Your breast would be numbed first with local anesthesia to minimize any discomfort. In select cases, your doctor might examine the area first using ultrasound or MRI. This could help provide further guidance for the biopsy. You may be anxious about having a biopsy, but the odds are in your favor. Most biopsies for calcifications find that a benign process is the cause.
Your doctor may recommend that you come back in 6 months for another mammogram to check for any changes in the calcifications. Or, he or she may recommend that you resume annual screenings. These recommendations can depend on the specifics of the biopsy result, your individual situation, and whether you have risk factors for breast cancer. If the biopsy finds any abnormal-looking cells atypia , your doctor may perform a surgical biopsy. This takes a larger piece of tissue to make sure that nothing has been missed.
If breast cancer is found, then it would be treated based on your diagnosis. Even in these cases, most calcifications are markers of a benign process. Cancer treatments such as surgery, reconstruction, and radiation therapy can cause tissue damage and scarring, which can lead to calcifications showing up on a mammogram. Given your situation, though, your doctor should investigate any calcifications thoroughly. You may be more likely to have the area biopsied than a woman who is considered to be at average risk of breast cancer.
Also, your doctor may recommend screening with breast MRI in addition to mammography. Your risk factors should be taken into account as you make decisions about further testing and biopsy. Search Breastcancer. Was this article helpful? Last modified on November 19, at AM. Understanding Breast Calcifications.