What is breast calcification?
Breast calcifications are calcium deposits within breast tissue. They appear as white spots or flecks on a mammogram but can’t be felt during a breast exam.
Breast calcifications are common on mammograms, and they’re especially prevalent after menopause. Although breast calcifications are usually noncancerous (benign), certain patterns of calcifications — such as tight clusters with irregular shapes — may indicate breast cancer or precancerous changes to breast tissue.
On a mammogram, breast calcifications can appear as macrocalcifications or microcalcifications.
- These show up as large white dots or dashes. They’re almost always noncancerous and require no further testing or follow-up.
- These show up as fine, white specks, similar to grains of salt. They’re usually noncancerous, but certain patterns can be an early sign of cancer.
If breast calcifications appear suspicious on your initial mammogram, you will be called back for additional magnification views to get a closer look at the calcifications. If the second mammogram is still worrisome for cancer, your doctor may recommend a breast biopsy to know for sure.
How common is breast calcification?
Breast calcification is common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. However, it’s more common in women who are in their menopause. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Which signs and symptoms can breast calcification usually be associated with?
Breast calcification usually doesn’t have any symptom.
What causes breast calcification?
Sometimes calcifications indicate breast cancer, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but most calcifications result from noncancerous (benign) conditions.
Possible causes of breast calcifications include:
- Breast cancer
- Breast cysts (fluid-filled sacs in breast tissue that are usually benign)
- Cell secretions or debris
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)
- Fibroadenoma (a solid, benign mass most common in young women)
- Mammary duct ectasia
- Previous injury or surgery to the breast (fat necrosis)
- Previous radiation therapy for cancer
- Skin (dermal) or blood vessel (vascular) calcification
Products that contain radiopaque materials or metals, such as deodorants, creams or powders, may mimic calcifications on a mammogram, making it more difficult to interpret whether the calcifications are due to benign or cancerous changes. Because of this, skin products of any kind should not be worn during a mammogram.
The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of breast calcification. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
What increases my risk for breast calcification?
You are more likely to experience breast calcification if you have any of the conditions mentioned above.
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
When to see your doctor
When should I see my doctor?
Breast calcifications aren’t painful or big enough to be felt during a breast exam, either done yourself or by your doctor. They’re usually first noticed on a routine mammogram screening. It’s best to have frequent breast examination, especially if you have entered menopause.
On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage breast calcification?
If you are told you have breast calcifications and need further tests, it is natural to feel worried. But it is important to remember most breast calcifications are not a sign of cancer.
After a biopsy, most microcalcifications are shown to be non-cancerous (benign). If this happens, you won’t need any treatment.
If the biopsy results show there is an early breast cancer, a surgeon or breast care nurse will explain more about this. They will talk to you about the treatment you need and give you support to help you cope.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Breast calcifications. https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/diagnosing/causes-and-risk-factors/pre-cancerous-conditions/breast-calcifications.html#275759. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Breast Calcifications. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/breast-calcification-symptoms-causes-treatments#1-5. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Breast Calcifications: A Cause for Concern? https://www.healthline.com/health/breast-cancer/breast-calcifications. Accessed January 4, 2019.
Review Date: January 4, 2019 | Last Modified: January 4, 2019