Mammographic screening detects early breast cancers and thereby reduces potential mortality. However, its sensitivity is inversely related to breast density 1.
Altered density between two mammograms can arise in a number of situations:
Affecting both breasts:
interval commencement/cessation ...
Amorphous calcifications, previously known as indistinct calcifications, are a morphological descriptor for breast calcifications that are small and/or hazy such that no clearly defined shape/form can be ascribed.
Many benign and malignant conditions may be seen in association with ...
Asymmetry in breast size can arise from a number of factors.
Breasts are rarely absolutely the same size or volume. Normal variation is common. Most females have slight discrepancies in breast size. Asymmetric progressive breast enlargement is unusual but known. The role of the breas...
Asymmetries in mammography represents a spectrum of morphological descriptors for a unilateral fibroglandular-density finding seen on one or more mammographic projections that does not meet criteria for a mass. The term refers to a density finding and should not be confused with asymmetry in bre...
Bilateral axillary lymphadenopathy can result from a number of causes and generally implies a systemic process. They include:
autoimmune diseases, e.g.:
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Breast calcifications are deposits of calcium salts in the breast, which are radio-opaque on mammography. The majority are benign, but they can be associated with cancer. The ability to diagnose and appropriately manage the significant microcalcifications and differentiate them from innocuous fi...
Breast density refers to the amount of fibroglandular tissue in a breast relative to fat. It can significantly vary between individuals and within individuals over a lifetime.
There are four descriptors for breast density on mammography in the 5th edition of BI-RADS 1,2:
Breast lumps have different characteristics that allow simplification of differential diagnosis by breaking down the vast list into sections. Consider whether the lump fits into one of these categories.
Spiculation is a feature of neoplasms and all masses that display spicula...
Calcific axillary lymphadenopathy is in general, more concerning than axillary lymphadenopathy alone and is particularly so if it contains microcalcifications. While this is concerning for malignancy, it can also occur from occasional nonmalignant causes
metastatic axillary lymp...
Coarse macrocalcifications within the breast are a morphological descriptive term for a type of breast calcification.
involuting fibroadenomas ( classical popcorn calcification )
chronic renal disease with hypercalcaemia 1
rarely seen in malignancy 2
invasive breast carci...
Cutaneous calcifications in breast imaging can form in dermal sweat glands after low grade folliculitis and inspissation of sebaceous material. Calcifications may also form in moles and other skin lesions. The vast majority of calcifications are coincidental findings on mammography.
A cystic breast mass is a mass that contains both solid and fluid components. This can occur from both benign and malignant causes.
complex breast haematoma
complex breast abscess
breast cyst with associated inflammation and haemorrhage
fibrocystic changes and oil cysts...
Dilated ducts on breast imaging may be seen on many breast imaging modalities and can arise from a number of causes which can be both benign or malignant.
physiological lactational changes
mammary duct ectasia
breast neoplasm 2-3
Fat containing breast lesions generally have some radiolucent component on mammography.
They are generally classified at BIRADS II lesions.
fat necrosis within the breast/oil cyst
intramammary lymph node: classically has a central fatty hilu...
The term grouped calcifications is used in mammography when relatively few breast microcalcifications reside within a small area. There must be at least five calcifications present within 1 cm of each other 3. At the most, it may refer to a larger number of calcifications present within 2 cm of ...
Gynaecomastia refers to a benign excess of the male breast tissue, that is usually reversible. It is not a risk factor per se for developing male breast cancer.
While it can occur at any age, it tends to have greater prevalence in two groups: adolescent boys and older men (some pu...
The term high-risk breast lesion is given to a breast lesion that carries an increased risk for the future development of breast cancer or carries suspicion of a more sinister pathology around or in association with the lesion. The term has some overlap with borderline breast disease. Many radio...
There are a number of lesions that appear hyperechoic on ultrasound. Such lesions can be either completely or partly hyperechoic and include both benign and malignant entities.
fat containing breast lesions
lipoma of the breast
fibroadenolipoma (hamartoma) of the breast
Male breast disease includes a wide spectrum of conditions. Many conditions and entities that affect the female breast may also affect the male breast.
male breast cancer
pseudogynaecomastia: fat deposition within the...
Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast parenchyma, of which there are a number of subtypes:
puerperal mastitis: occurs usually from infection with Staphylococcus during lactation
non-puerperal mastitis: not related to lactation, and occurs usually in older women
Medical devices in the thorax are regularly observed by radiologists when reviewing radiographs and CTs.
tubing, clamps, syringes lying on or under the patient
rubber sheets, foam mattresses, clothing, hair braids, nipple piercings etc. may also be visible
Metachronous breast cancers are two breast cancers that occur in either breast in two different time periods.
Treatment and prognosis
The survival rate of women with metachronous breast cancers diagnosed within 2 years of the original primary is worse than those with unilateral disease 4.
Milk of calcium within a breast cyst is a mammographic feature observed when there is dependant calcium layering within breast cysts. It is typically observed as "tea cup" or "crescent shaped" calcifications on a true lateral (LM or ML) view on occasionally on a MLO view. On a CC view, these cal...
A multicentric breast cancer is a term given to a breast cancer where there are two or more breast cancers separated by normal breast tissue (often taken as 5 cm of separation 4). It is related to but distinct from the term multifocal breast cancer.
At a pathological level It can also mean 2
Multifocal breast cancer refers to two or more individual breast cancers diagnosed at the same time within the same quadrant of the same breast 1.
Papillary lesions of the breast comprise a wide group and range from benign to malignant.
They develop as tufts of epithelium with a ﬁbrovascular core that arborize into branching papillae and protrude into the duct lumen.
papilloma of breast / intraductal papilloma of the b...
Post surgical breast scar is a benign complication that usually occurs following surgical intervention to breast tissue. It can however be a strong and potentially very confusing mimicker of breast malignancy.
Review of the patient's past history and previous mammography...
Pregnancy associated breast cancer (PABC) is usually defined as a breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy or one year following delivery. PABC occurs in one out of every 1500-10,000 pregnancies 5-6 and represents up to 3% of all breast malignancies. The incidence may be increasing due to many w...
A residual breast cancer is a remaining portion of the original primary breast cancer after an incomplete resection or following radiotherapy or chemotherapy. The term is particularly used in assessing patients who have had neo-adjuvant chemo +/- radiotherapy.
Silicone injection into various parts of the body has been used in many countries to achieve what are perceived to be cosmetic improvements. Most common sites for such injections are the breasts, face, and buttocks, although anywhere can be targeted.
This article is a general discussion of the...
The presence of skin thickening on mammography is variably defined, usually being more than 2 mm in thickness. It can result from a number of both benign and malignant causes. They include:
inflammatory breast cancer: one of the most concerning causes of skin thickening: this usually...
Spontaneous nipple discharge in a non lactating breast can result from many causes which include:
papillary lesions of breast: present in ~35-50% of cases with spontaneous nipple discharge
ductal carcinoma in situ: 5-21%
Suspicious breast calcifications are calcifications within the breast that have a morphology and/or distribution on mammography indicating a significant probability of malignancy. These merit further workup and biopsy 1.
Some calcifications may be more conspicu...
Unilateral axillary lymphadenopathy while being more concerning than bilateral axillary lymphadenopathy can still arise from a variety of benign, as well as malignant, causes.
other regional infective causes
ipsilateral arm infection, e.g. cellulitis
Certain well-defined breast cancers tend to lack the characteristic spiculation and can give false reassurance of more benign entities on both ultrasound and mammography. These include:
certain high grade invasive ductal carcinomas: not enough time for a desmoplastic reaction to form spiculatio...