Breast Calcifications: What Are They?:
Calcifications are divided into two kinds:
Microcalcifications are quite tiny bits of calcium, and may show up in clusters, or in patterns (like circles or lines) and are associated with extra cell activity in breast tissue. Usually the extra cell growth is not cancerous, but sometimes tight clusters of microcalcifications can indicate early breast cancer. Scattered microcalcifications are usually a sign of benign breast tissue.
What happens next, if you have Microcalcifications?:
If you have a couple of microcalcifications that look questionable, you may be asked to come back in six months for a comparative mammogram. That will help the doctors see if any changes are happening.
It’s good to do these follow-up exams to make sure that you get the best information on your health.
Some benign causes will make calcifications show up on a mammogram:
- old injury to breast tissue, natural wear and tear
- mastitis, or inflammation caused by a breast infection
- calcium collected inside a dilated milk duct
- calcium mixed with fluid in a benign breast cyst
- powders, ointments or deodorants deposit calcium on the skin
- radiation treatment for breast cancer
- calcification in the arteries within your breast
- calcifications in a fibroadenoma (benign growth)
Where and How Often Do Calcifications Appear?:
- macrocalcifications show up in about 50 percent of women over 50, and 10 percent of women under 50 years of age
- macrocalcifications are usually not worrisome and won't require a biopsy
- 80 percent of microcalcifications are benign
- microcalcifications can help detect ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
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