Calcium deposits that formed within the breast tissue over time lead to the development of breast calcifications. They show on mammograms as little white spots or specks and are not cancerous.
Mammograms often reveal breast calcifications, which become more prevalent around the age of 50. Although the vast majority of breast calcifications are benign (noncancerous), certain calcification patterns, such as dense clusters with irregular shapes and a fine appearance, may be indicative of breast cancer or precancerous alterations in the breast tissue and should be evaluated further by a medical professional.
Mammography may detect breast calcifications as macrocalcifications or microcalcifications, depending on their size and location.
The majority of women with breast calcifications are asymptomatic. They are usually totally unaware of their existence until they undergo regular mammography.
If your doctor finds microcalcifications (the smaller ones), it does not necessarily mean you will require a breast biopsy. However, if the deposits seem to be concerning, are clustered together, or are visible in a line on a mammogram or under a microscope, your care team may decide to do a biopsy to rule out any possible concerns. Breast calcification clusters of this type can be indicative of malignant breast calcifications.
Depending on the degree of the microcalcifications, your doctor may suggest a six-month follow-up mammogram to check the area. Doctors may also recommend spot compression mammography, also known as cone compression, which allows for a more thorough inspection of a particular area of the breast.
If you have microcalcifications, your care team may be able to detect them without the need for a biopsy since they appear as larger white dots on mammograms.
Capillary calcium deposits may be seen inside microcalcifications, which are larger and more extensively distributed calcium deposits. The majority of them occur in women over 50, and a number of causes, including the following may cause them:
- The hardening of the arteries
- Infection or injury to the breast
Breast calcifications are a relatively common finding in breast imaging, particularly in women over 50. Microcalcifications are frequently detected during routine mammography. Their incidence rises with age and is commonly linked to benign (non-cancerous) diseases. Specific patterns of calcifications, on the other hand, can raise concerns and demand further research to rule out breast cancer.
Although the exact cause of calcifications in breast tissue is unknown, it is presumed that they are caused by high calcium consumption or calcium supplementation.
Although calcifications in the breast, such as those caused by “ductal carcinoma in situ” (DCIS), may be indicative of cancer, noncancerous (benign) diseases cause the vast majority.
- Breast calcifications may be caused by a variety of factors, including the following:
- Breast cancer
- Cysts in the breast
- Accumulation of Cellular debris that may consist of fluids or detritus from cells.
- Mammary duct ectasia (a condition in which the duct does not function correctly)
Calcification of the epidermis (dermal calcification) and calcification of the blood vessels (vascular calcification) are two examples of calcification. In cosmetics containing radiopaque chemicals or metals, such as deodorants, lotions, and talcum powders, calcifications may appear on mammograms, making it more difficult to determine whether the calcifications are caused by benign calcifications.
Women who have previously been treated for breast cancer seem to be more prone to developing breast calcifications, along with women who have had breast surgery for any reason. Breast artery calcifications may also occur as a consequence of aging or a prior infection in the breast tissue.
Breast calcifications do not usually create any visible symptoms. They are frequently identified through mammography, breast imaging, or diagnostic investigations. In some circumstances, they signal underlying conditions that need further evaluation.
- Mammography: Breast calcifications are primarily detected by mammography, a low-dose X-ray imaging technique. On mammography, they look like tiny white specks.
- Classification: Based on size, form, and distribution, calcifications are divided into microcalcifications (specks) and macrocalcifications (more prominent, irregular shapes).
- Biopsy: If the calcifications are worrisome or occur in clusters, a biopsy may be indicated to establish whether they are benign (non-cancerous) or perhaps related to breast cancer.
The breast calcifications treatment depends on their classification and underlying cause:
- Benign Calcifications: Most breast calcifications are benign, and no treatment is required. Follow-up mammograms may be recommended regularly.
- Suspicious Calcifications: If calcifications are problematic for breast cancer, a biopsy (such as a core needle or surgical biopsy) may be performed to determine the presence of malignancy. Appropriate treatment, such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, will be prescribed if cancer is discovered.
- Management of Underlying disorders: When calcifications are associated with benign breast disorders (for example, fibrocystic alterations), treatment may focus on controlling the underlying need to limit the probability of recurring calcifications.
It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider or a breast specialist to interpret mammogram results, determine the nature of breast calcifications, and recommend appropriate follow-up or treatment when necessary. Regular breast cancer screening and early detection are vital in managing breast calcifications and related conditions.
When To See A Doctor
If your radiologist suspects that the calcifications on your breasts are related to precancerous changes or breast cancer, you may need a second mammogram with magnification views to rule out the potential of malignancy. As a consequence, they may perform a more thorough examination of the calcifications. A breast biopsy is an alternate treatment option that enables the radiologist to analyze a sample of breast tissue for indications of malignancy.
Your radiologist will almost likely require a previous mammogram to compare and see whether the calcifications are new or if their size or pattern has altered.
Depending on the source of the calcifications, your radiologist may suggest repeat mammography with magnification views every six months following the initial scan. It is the radiologist’s duty to determine if the calcifications have altered in form, size, or quantity.
If you have a family history of breast cancer or are at high risk of developing the illness, you should seek medical care immediately. A doctor will evaluate these risk factors when determining whether or not to proceed with additional tests.
This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about breast calcification or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.