Calcifications on Your Mammogram: What You Need to Know

BCMG-Breast-Cancer-CalcificationCalcifications on a mammogram look like small white spots. Breast calcifications are usually too small to feel and are first noticed on a routine mammogram. They are usually no cause for concern, but may require additional follow-up care if they are present in certain patterns.

Calcifications on Mammograms are Common

Calcifications are common, especially in older women. Calcifications are found on about 50% of mammograms in women age 50 and older, and on about 10% of mammograms in women under 50. Breast calcifications may develop naturally as breast tissue ages, or they may be a result of a previous fibroadenoma, cyst, infection, or injury.

Types of Calcifications on a Mammogram

Calcifications on a mammogram can be classified as macrocalcifications or microcalcifications.

  • Macrocalcifications, which are usually benign (non-cancerous), appear large, round and randomly spread throughout the breast.
  • Microcalcifications, which are usually benign but could require additional care, appear smaller and clustered in one area.

What Happens Next

When macrocalcifications are present, nothing more needs to be done. The calcifications will be monitored on your next regularly scheduled mammogram to check for any changes in size, shape or pattern. When microcalcifications are present, a second imaging exam is usually performed to give the radiologist a closer look at the area. If the calcifications look potentially cancerous, the radiologist may order a breast biopsy to test for cancerous cells. If the calcifications do not potentially cancerous, the radiologist may request that the patient return in 6-12 months for a follow up exam to look for changes.

Your Mammogram

Whether your last mammogram was normal or showed calcifications, always continue to receive an annual mammogram. Mammograms save lives by helping to find cancer early, when it is most treatable. If you haven’t had your mammogram yet this year, come to The Breast Center of Maple Grove. Appointments are available Monday-Friday 7:30am-5:00pm, with extended hours on Tuesday from 7:30am-8:00pm. Walk-ins are also welcome!