What Are Breast Calcifications?
By Norma E. Roth
As the name suggests, breast calcifications are calcium deposits that develop within breast tissue. Calcifications are common; about half of women age 50 and over and about one in ten women under age 50 have them.
South Jersey Radiology breast imaging specialists frequently find breast calcifications during routine mammograms. Calcifications develop naturally, especially after menopause. (Calcium from your diet does not cause breast calcifications.)
SJRA breast imaging specialists use the latest technology to find and monitor breast calcifications, which appear on a digital or 3D mammogram as small, bright, white spots. They are so small you can’t feel them and they don’t cause any discomfort.
The two types of calcifications are:
• Macrocalcifications that appear as large white spots randomly throughout the breast. These usually can be seen without additional views or magnification of the breast tissue and are most often benign.
• Microcalcifications that appear in tight clusters as fine, small white specks. These are usually benign, but can be a sign of early breast cancer.
When an SJRA breast imaging specialist finds microcalcifications, he or she may perform additional targeted mammograms with magnification views. These larger, more detailed views allow the radiologist to determine whether the calcifications are benign, probably benign, or suspicious. This determination is essential in helping to select a course of treatment.
If calcifications are benign, usually no further follow-up is indicated. If the calcifications appear probably benign, a six-month follow-up mammogram may be recommended to determine whether the calcifications are changed in appearance or if the number or pattern of the calcifications has changed. If the calcifications are suspicious or indeterminate, which means they are too fine to really characterize, a breast biopsy may be recommended to evaluate the breast tissue for the presence of cancer.
Remember, a mammogram is the most effective method for evaluating calcifications in breast tissue; that is why your annual screening mammography is important to your overall health.
About Norma E. Roth
Norma E. Roth, a breast cancer survivor, is a freelance journalist for health wellness and sustainable living. She is an advocate for annual mammography screening, believing early detection is the key to cancer survival. You can learn more about her at www.normaeroth.com.