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Mammogram - calcifications

Microcalcifications or macrocalcifications; Breast cancer - calcifications; Mammography - calcifications

Calcifications are tiny deposits of calcium in your breast tissue. They are often seen on a mammogram.

Information

The calcium you eat or take in as medicine does not cause calcifications in the breast.

Most calcifications are not a sign of cancer. Causes may include:

  • Calcium deposits in the arteries inside your breasts
  • History of breast infection
  • Noncancerous (benign) breast lumps or cysts
  • Past injury to the breast tissue
  • Powders, deodorants, or ointments that are placed on the skin

Large, rounded calcifications (macrocalcifications) are common in women over age 50. They look like small white dots on the mammogram. They are most likely not related to cancer. You will rarely need more testing.

Microcalcifications are tiny calcium specks seen on a mammogram. Most of the time, they are not cancer. However, these areas may need to be checked more closely if they have a certain appearance on the mammogram.

WHEN IS FURTHER TESTING NEEDED?

When microcalcifications are present on a mammogram, the doctor (a radiologist) may ask for a larger view so the areas can be examined more closely.

Calcifications that do not appear to be a problem are called benign. No specific follow-up is needed. But, your health care provider may recommend that you get a mammogram each year.

In some cases, calcifications that are slightly abnormal but do not look like a problem (such as cancer) are also called benign. Most women will need to have a follow-up mammogram in 6 months.

Calcifications that are irregular in size or shape or are tightly clustered together, are called suspicious calcifications. Your provider will recommend a stereotactic core biopsy. This is a needle biopsy that uses a type of mammogram machine to help find the calcifications. The purpose of the biopsy is to find out if the calcifications are benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

Most women who have suspicious calcifications do not have cancer.

References

Ikeda DM, Miyake KK. Mammographic analysis of breast calcifications. In: Ikeda DM, Miyake KK, eds. Breast Imaging: The Requisites. 3rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 3.

Siu AL; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for breast cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(4):279-296. PMID: 26757170 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757170.

    • Mammogram

      Mammogram - illustration

      A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breasts. It is used to find tumors and to help tell the difference between noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) disease. One breast at a time is rested on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. A device called a compressor is pressed firmly against the breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Each breast is compressed horizontally,then obliquely and an x-ray is taken of each position.

      Mammogram

      illustration

      • Mammogram

        Mammogram - illustration

        A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breasts. It is used to find tumors and to help tell the difference between noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) disease. One breast at a time is rested on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. A device called a compressor is pressed firmly against the breast to help flatten out the breast tissue. Each breast is compressed horizontally,then obliquely and an x-ray is taken of each position.

        Mammogram

        illustration

      Tests for Mammogram - calcifications

       

      Review Date: 10/11/2017

      Reviewed By: Todd Campbell, MD, FACS, Clinical Assistant Professor, RowanSOM, Department of Surgery; Wilmington VA Medical Center, Wilmington, DE. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Internal review and update on 01/19/2019 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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