Breast Calcifications

WHAT ARE BREAST CALCIFICATIONS?


Breast calcifications are small dots of calcium salts that can occur anywhere in the breast tissue. They do
not cause any pain and cannot be felt. The calcifications are very common and are usually due to benign
(non-cancerous) changes that occur as part of aging. Occasionally however, breast calcifications can be an
early sign of cancer so you may need further tests to determine what sort of calcifications you have.


HOW ARE THEY FOUND?

Breast calcifications are usually found by chance during a routine screening mammogram or during an
investigation for another breast problem. The calcifications appear as small white dots.

HOW ARE THEY TREATED?
If the calcifications look benign on the mammogram, nothing more needs to be done. They do not need to be removed and will not cause any harm. If the calcifications look indeterminate (uncertain) or suspicious you will need further tests. This does not mean anything is necessarily wrong, but will help to make an accurate diagnosis. Further tests could include the following:
 Mammogram
Another mammogram to provide a magnified picture of the affected area for better characterisation of
the calcifications.
 Ultrasound scan
An ultrasound scan using sound waves to produce an image of the breast tissue. This is used to
determine if there is an associated mass as the calcifications are invisible on ultrasound. The scan is
painless and usually takes a few minutes.
 Core biopsy
 If after the repeat mammogram or ultrasound scan the calcifications still look indeterminate or
suspicious, the radiologist may recommend a core biopsy. A core biopsy is performed with a hollow
needle, using a mammogram or ultrasound for guidance, to take a sample of breast tissue. The
procedure involves the use of a local anaesthetic. The sample will be sent to a laboratory for
examination under a microscope.

FOLLOW-UP
It is likely that your tests will show that the calcifications are due to benign changes in which case you will
not need any more treatment. If the calcifications are part of another benign breast condition or an unusual
change (atypia), you will be advised if anything further needs to be done. If the calcifications are an early
sign of breast cancer, your doctor will explain this to you and discuss your future treatment.

DO BREAST CALCIFICATIONS INCREASE MY RISK OF BREAST CANCER?
Most breast calcifications are due to benign (non-cancerous) changes, which do not increase your risk of
breast cancer. However, if the breast calcifications are due to atypical changes, this may slightly increase
your risk of breast cancer. Your doctor will be able to discuss this further with you.

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