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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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What do calcifications in breast on a mammogram indicate?

i am almost 64 years old and just had a mammogram. Asymmetry and calcifications were found in upper, outer quadrant left breast. Recommendation is for special view mammogram of left breast with spot compression and magnification views Ultrasound of left breast. Because of density of breasts, it is hard to determine. Benign scattered calcifications were found in right breast. What is asymmetry ? What are calcifications? Do I have something to be concerned about?
Sat, 26 Dec 2015
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OBGYN 's  Response
Hello, and I hope I can help you today.

I hope that I can help to explain some of the terminology used for mammogram reports to help you understand the recommendation by the radiologist.

Calcifications are deposits, literally, of calcium that are visible in the body tissues. Most of the solid portions of your body, like your bones, cartilage, and teeth, are based with calcium, which makes them visible on an x-ray. As certain organs age, such as the walls of your arteries, deposits of calcium can take place within them which can make them visible on an expert test

Another producer of calcium in the human body is the breast, when milk is produced during lactation. Even for woman has never breast-fed, the milk glands as they age can also develop calcium deposits just like your arteries.

However, calcium unfortunately can also be produced by certain types of breast cancer. Usually, we only become concerned about this if the calcifications are in one particular area of the breast that has not been seen before.

Asymmetry refers to a term when one breast is a slightly different shape than the other. Many women have breasts that are not exactly the same size and that itself does not indicate a problem. However a new area of one breast that seems larger than the other also needs further analysis to make sure that it is not caused by a lump.

So the tests that are recommended for you to do, meaning the extra views of your left mammogram with spot compression (meaning looking at only one part of the breast in different angles) and maginfication views (to make the area easier to see) and your breast ultrasound are all recommended to take a look at that particular area of your left breast more closely. Ultrasound can be more effective than mammogram in detecting problems in women with dense breasts. Dense breasts just have more solid tissue rather than fat which makes them slightly more opaque on a mammogram screening.

So in summary, your mammogram itself just has some factors that require an additional, closer view to make sure that everything is okay. This in itself is nothing to worry about and as long as all those additional views and the breast ultrasound or normal there is no reason to be concerned. However I will emphasize the importance of getting all these tests to fully evaluate that area described of your left. In the future, because you required for for us additional pictures and an ultrasound to accurately view this area of your breast, in following years your healthcare provider may refer you to do these tests yearly rather than doing a conventional mammogram.

I hope I was able to adequately answer your question today, and that this information was helpful and reassuring.

Best wishes, Dr. Brown
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