Microcalcifications are tiny specks of mineral deposits (calcium), that can be scattered throughout the mammary gland, or occur in clusters. So, microcalcifications may indicate the presence of breast cancer as they are often associated with different kinds of tumors.
Breast microcalcifications have no symptoms that a woman would notice herself on self breast exam, like a lump. Much of the time breast microcalcifications are not cancer. However, in some instances they are associated with a very early development of breast cancer, and need investigation.
Just to let you know, this page is a little bit old, from around the year 2000. The new information about abnormal mammography screening programs is here.
I also have another page on breast microcalcifications of mammogram HERE with additional information.
Two basic types of Breast Microcalcifications
Microcalcifications often occur as one of two basic types:-
- Calcium oxalate dihydrate
- Calcium hydroxyapatite
The calcium oxalate dihydrate particles are most often proven to be benign. For calcium hydroxyapatite particles, they are sometimes benign, sometimes malignant. New research is suggesting that calcium hydroxyapatite particles containing higher amounts of calcium carbonate and a smaller amount of protein are more likely to be benign.
Classification of Breast Microcalcifications
Specialists tend to describe and categorize breast microcalcifications according to their
- and pattern of distribution.
Different patterns tend to be more suggestive of malignancy than others. Microcalcifications are the most common finding in women with non-palpable breast lesions, and a vital early diagnostic indicator in the screening and staging of potentially malignant breast lesions.
Patterns of microcalcifications can suggest malignant breast cancer nearby
Probably the earliest indication of potential breast cancer as viewed on a screening mammogram is the presence of microcalcifications. Most microcalcifications are due to benign causes, but some patterns, such as fine, pleomorphic microcalcifications, would be suspicious for malignancy, probably requiring additional studies and short-term follow-up.
- Haka, A., Shater-Peltier, K., Fitzmaurice, M., Crowe, J., Dasari, R., Feld, M., Identifying Microcalcifications in Benign and Malignant Breast Lesions by Probing Differences in Their Chemical Composition Using Raman Spectroscopy. Cancer Research 62, 5375-5380, September 15, 2002
- Johnson J. M., Dalton R. R., Wester S. M., Landercasper J., Lambert P. J. Histological correlation of microcalcifications in breast biopsy specimens. Arch. Surg., 134: 712-716, 1999
- Frappart L., Boudeulle M., Boumendil J., Lin H. C., Martinon I., Palayer C., Mallet-Guy Y., Raudrant D., Bremond A., Rochet Y. Structure and composition of microcalcifications in benign and malignant lesions of the breast: Study by light microscopy, transmission and scanning electron microscopy, microprobe analysis, and X-ray diffraction. Hum. Pathol., 15: 880-889, 1984
- Fadul, D., Rapelyea, J., Schwartz, A., Brem, R., Development of Malignant Breast Microcalcifications After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Advanced Breast Cancer. The Breast Journal. (march 2004) Vol. 10,2. p. 141.
- Aguilar Zapag, R., De Bleecker, K., Notario Coronel, A. Breast Microcalcifications: frequency, management and outcome experience in the Mastology Department of the General Surgery Service of the HCIPS. Mem. Inst. Investig. Cienc. Salud, June 2007, vol.5, no.1, p.4-8.
- Orel SG, Kay N, Reynolds C, et al. BI-RADS categorization as a predictor of malignancy. Radiology (1999): 211: 845-850.
- Baum JK, Hanna LG, Acharyya S, Mahoney MC, Conant EF, Bassett LW, Pisano ED. Use of BI-RADS 3-Probably Benign Category in the American College of Radiology Imaging Network Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial. Radiology. (Jul 2011) 260(1):61-7.
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