There are many women whose mammogram (X-ray of breast) may show calcium deposits in breast. They may appear as white cotton ball or tiny salt grains in the breast. An abnormality found in breast, is always a cause of concern for every woman. However, the good news is that, deposits of calcium in breast do not indicate breast malignancy, they are harmless.
Calcium deposition is quiet common among women after menopause. At least 50 % of women may have some form of calcium deposits after the age of 50. Calcium deposits cannot be felt on breast palpation.
There are two different types of breast calcification observed on a mammogram, macrocalcification and microcalcification. As the name suggests macrocalcification are large sized calcium deposits, and they appear as large white single spot. They are non cancerous in nature and result due to aging of breast. More common among women over fifty, macrocalcification can also occur in younger women, but the ratio is proportionately less. They are usually caused due to calcium deposition in the milk ducts as a woman ages. Macrocalcification are completely harmless.
Microcalicfication, as the name suggests are tiny white salt grain like structures that appear on mammogram. They appear in various size and shapes. Normally, microcalicification in breast are not cancerous, however in rare cases they may turn cancerous when they are clustered at a particular area in the breast.
What Causes Calcium Deposits In Breast?
Calcium deposition can occurs in many parts of the body besides breast. It may get deposited in hips, arms, and hands etc.
- Deposits of calcium form in the body tissues when crystals of calcium phosphate and collagen combine together. Collagen is a type of protein present in body tissues.
- Calcium deposits in breast rarely occur in young age, it usually occurs as women grow old. The degeneration is triggered by either an injury or infection in the breast besides aging.
- Presence of foreign body such as breast implant can also trigger calcium deposition in the breast tissue.
- Benign growths in breast such as a cyst or a fibroadenoma may trigger deposition of calcium in the breast tissue.
- Sometimes milk ducts get blocked with milk. It may give rise to calcium deposits in breast in later years of life. Calcium deposit in breast is not related in any way to dietary calcium.
Breast Calcium Deposits Symptoms
Calcium deposits in breast do not produce any symptoms. They are too small to be palpated while examining the breast. Calcium deposits in breast are detected on a mammogram.
The shape and size of the calcium deposit is evaluated by the radiologist to decide whether it is malignant or non cancerous.
When there is doubt, the surgeon always advises for a needle biopsy. In this procedure, a fine needle is inserted in the breast tissue and sample of breast tissue is taken for histopathology test. The test is done under local anesthesia.
Treatment For Calcification In Breast
Most cases of calcium deposits in breast are non cancerous and are considered as harmless. However, in some cases there may be a risk of cancerous or precancerous growth in breast tissue. Therefore during first year, calcium deposits are monitored every six months. If the doctor finds increase in the size or shape of the calcium deposit, he may recommend undergoing a biopsy.
During biopsy a small tissue is taken from the breast and sent for examination in the laboratory for detecting cancer cells. If cancer is present, then the treatment option may be removal of the breast surgically, radiation or/and chemotherapy.
No treatment is required on fibroadenoma of breast. It disappears after sometime. In case if calcification of cyst is hurting the patient, doctors may drain the cyst to provide relief to the patient. From the above facts, the patient should not panic when she finds calcium deposits in breast on her mammogram. Instead she should talk to her doctor. Reassurance and frequent monitoring is all that is usually required for calcium deposits in breast.