Sclerosis refers to a condition of 'hardening' of some kind, usually caused by an overgrowth of fibrous tissue. 'Stroma' is a general term which refers to the supportive-connective tissues surrounding or within an organ, as opposed to the more 'functional' elements.
Sclerotic stroma, then, refers to a hardening of fibous breast tissues (collagen) but without any cancerous growth. The breast itself would typically feel 'harder' by physical touch. Sclerotic stroma frequently accompanies the develpment of a fibroadenoma. Often, a prevailing condition of sclerotic stroma can lead to the development of a radial scar, which is thought to put women at higher risk for breast cancer development.
On mammography, spicules may be visible as a result of benign causes such as fibrous tissue buildup, lipid-filled spaces which are surrounded by histiocytes, or, by sclerotic stroma. But in malignant breast cancer lesions these spicules are more likely caused by breast tumor infiltration, periductal fibrosis, or a desmoplastic response. For this reason, mammography usually needs to be followed up by either additional imaging studies or possibly by needle biopsy, just to make sure.
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