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What is breast calcification?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Calcification are deposits of calcium in the tissues. Calcification in the breast can be seen on a mammogram, but cannot be detected by touch. There are two types of breast calcification, macrocalcification and microcalcification. Macrocalcifications are large deposits and are usually not related to cancer. Microcalcifications are specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells. Many microcalcifications clustered together may be a sign of cancer.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Breast calcifications are associated with calcium found within the breast tissue. Calcifications can be considered micro or macro depending upon the size of the calcifications. These calcifications are not palpable during self-breast examination, however may be picked up on mammography. Micro calcifications may be a sign for premalignancy or cancer and therefore clusters of microcalcifications should be considered seriously and possible biopsies performed in order to rule out malignancy.

Dr. Thomas M. Cink, MD
Radiologist

It can be scary if a mammogram reveals that you have breast calcifications. In this video, Dr. Thomas Cink talks about how calcifications occur and when you should be concerned.

A calcification is a deposit of the mineral calcium in the breast tissue. Calcifications appear as small white spots on a mammogram. There are two types:

  1. Macrocalcifications are large calcium deposits often caused by aging. These are usually not a sign of cancer.
  2. Microcalcifications are tiny specks of calcium that may be found in an area of rapidly dividing cells.

If calcifications are grouped together in a certain way, it may be a sign of cancer. Depending on how many calcium specks you have, how big they are, and what they look like, your doctor may suggest that you have:

  • A different type of mammogram that allows the radiologist to have a closer look at the area
  • Another screening mammogram, usually within 6 months
  • Other tests such as ultrasound or biopsy

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Jaspreet G. Kaur, DO
Family Practitioner

Breast calcifications are tiny deposits in the breast tissue that look like white spots on the mammogram pictures. The calcifications may or may not suggest cancer.

Microcalcifications are small deposits of calcium that can be present in the soft tissue of the breast. They are visible on mammogram. Some calcifications are benign, and occur with aging, trauma to the breast, after surgery, or after a breast infection. Calcifications can sometimes be associated with a breast cancer. The doctor reading your mammograms will make a determination if your calcifications look suspicious or not. This is done by comparing this year’s mammograms to those from prior years to see if there is any change over time, as well as by looking at how the calcifications are grouped and what shape they are in. If they appear suspicious, a biopsy may be recommended.

Breast calcifications are deposits of calcium that form in the breast. These deposits can be detected with mammograms.

There are two patterns of calcification:

  • Macrocalcifications. These are large and usually few in number. They generally go along with noncancerous processes. These include lactation (milk production), inflammation and aging.
  • Microcalcifications. These are small and clustered. They are sometimes seen in areas of rapid tissue growth. Having them may lead to a suspicion of cancer.

A breast biopsy will be recommended if a suspicious area is seen.

Some patterns are not easy to classify. We call these indeterminate. In this case, the doctor will consider the patient's age and family history to determine the best course of action. If the risk of cancer is low, a repeat mammogram will be scheduled for a later date to monitor for changes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.