Breast calcifications (an approach)

Breast calcifications are relatively frequent on mammograms and are indicative of focally active process, however about 80% of these processes are benign. Thus the ability to distinguish these calcifications based on their morphological characteristics, size, number and distribution is important, and on follow-up mammograms the stability of the lesions should be determined.

Morphology
Distribution
  • probably malignant
    • grouped clusters 
    • segmental distribution
    • linear distribution 
Size

Small calcifications (<200 μm in diameter) are mostly malignant.

Stability   

Calcifications stable for greater than 2 years are in favour of a benign etiology.

Number

The greater the number of microcalcifications in an area, the more suspicious for malignancy. Malignant calcifications tend to occur in clusters of an area ¾-1 cm.

Multiplicity

Malignancy can be multifocal, hence the entire breast should be screened to rule out multicentric disease.

Breast imaging and pathology
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Article information

rID: 25778
System: Breast
Section: Approach
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Approach to breast calcification

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