Breast calcifications are often associated with breast cancer. In fact, roughly 80 per cent of calcifications are benign, according to the Mayo Clinic. Calcifications are calcium deposits in the tissue of the breast. Calcifications resemble white dots on mammograms and, in many instances, require close observation by radiologists. Calcified areas can indicate a precursor to cancer called hyperplasia. Hyperplasia occurs when too many cells cluster in one area. A good analogy is to consider the breast calcifications as the soil in your garden. Areas of concern develop when the soil concentrates in one area, producing a fertile area for cancer cells to grow. EMedicine indicates that breast calcifications can occur in woman at any age.
Schedule a regular mammogram every year, especially if you have a history of calcifications or breast cancer in the family. Baseline (first) and regular mammograms are the only way doctors can monitor breast calcifications, since women cannot feel these microscopic calcium deposits. If at all possible, choose a mammogram radiology facility that performs high-resolution digital mammograms. It's typical for doctors to wait four to six months to monitor progression of the calcifications, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Discuss with your doctor any concerns about your family health and incidence of breast cancer in your family. If it's your first mammogram or if you're in your mid-20s, consider that baseline mammogram as a snapshot of a healthy breast to be used for future comparisons.
Treat calcifications aggressively if your doctor believes breast cancer might be a future concern. Some doctors will biopsy breast calcifications upon removal to check for cancer staging (level) and to remove suspicious areas. Others choose the "wait and see" approach.
Seek a second opinion regarding breast calcification issues. For your own comfort and assurance, take your complete medical records, mammogram scans and reports to another doctor for evaluation. Arrive at the doctor's office with as much information as possible to help your second-opinion doctor make an educated opinion about your health.
Be aggressive in your treatment decisions if your breast calcification biopsies come back positive. Your doctor will guide you in the decision making as well as help evaluate potential areas of concern. At this point, many women choose to have a mastectomy to remove areas of potential concern completely. Others have breast conservation surgery to remove specific calcified areas but retain the majority of the breast.
Ask for and expect adequate care and treatment. Request an MRI for confirmation of any diagnosis before undergoing surgery for breast calcifications. If you're being monitored for a few months to check for any change in cell activity in your calcifications, diligently keep necessary appointments for mammograms.
Remember that calcifications cannot be seen without the help of digital imaging or a microscope. The procedure to mark these calcifications involves placement of the breast in a mammogram while a doctor inserts a fine wire with a curved end to mark the exact location of the calcification for removal. While this procedure is decidedly painful, it helps your doctor obtain clean margins around the area of concern to aid in removing any suspicious cells.