Calcifications are tiny deposits of calcium in your breast tissue. They are very commonly seen on a mammogram. (The calcium you eat or take in medication does not cause calcifications in the breast.)
Calcifications on mammograms
Most calcifications are not a sign of cancer. Other causes of calcifications on a mammogram include:
Large rounded calcifications (macrocalcifications) are common in women over age 50. They appear as small white dots on the mammogram. They are not thought to be related to cancer, and only rarely need more testing.
Microcalcifications are tiny calcium specks seen on a mammogram. Most of the time, they are not a sign of cancer, but they can be cancerous.
WHEN IS FURTHER TESTING NEEDED?
When microcalcifications are seen on a mammogram, the doctor (a radiologist) may ask for a magnified view so the calcifications can be seen more closely.
Calcifications that are not worrisome are called “benign” and no specific follow-up is needed.
If the calcifications are slightly abnormal but not really suspicious, they are called “probably benign.” Usually, a 6-month followup mammogram is recommended.
Calcifications that are irregular in size or shape, or tightly clustered together, are called "suspicious calcifications." Your health care provider will recommend a stereotactic core biopsy. This is a needle biopsy that uses a type of mammogram machine to help find the suspicious calcifications.
Most patients who have suspicious calcifications do not have cancer.
See also: Breast biopsy - stereotactic
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