Can mammograms detect microcalcifications or ductal carcinoma in situ?

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Laurie R. Margolies, MD
Diagnostic Radiology

Mammograms can and do detect calcifications and ductal carcinoma very well. There are, however, many causes of breast calcification and most calcifications in the breast are benign. A stereotactic biopsy may be suggested if there are worrisome calcifications on a mammogram. 

Ductal Carcinoma in Situ - DCIS - is stage 0 breast cancer and often presents as calcifications on a mammogram. We do know, however, that some DCIS is not calcified and can only be appreciated on contrast enhanced breast MRI.

One of the great benefits of mammography is its ability to detect microcalcifications. Microcalcification can indicate the presence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a very early stage of breast cancer. Microcalcifications are not detected by MRI or by ultrasound. It is important to note that not all microcalcifications are associated with cancer, so speak with your physician regarding any questions you may have regarding your mammographic 

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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.