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"What are calcifications?"
My sister just got a mammogram result back which showed that she has a calcification cluster in her left breast. What does this mean. I understand that it's not cancer, but isn't it still a very bad sign?
I appreciate you asking this question. Calcifications are simply areas of the body that have calcium deposits. All calcium deposits in the breast are considered to be abnormal, but not all are worrisome for cancer. Calcifications occur anywhere in the body where there is a tumor, healing tissue from an injury, or a healing infection. In other words, it is not specific to anything. Calcifications are one of several things that can be picked up on a routine mammogram. The reason they are an important finding is that they sometimes represent an early area that may progress into cancer. Therefore, when they are found further evaluation is typically needed. When they do represent something worrisome, it is often an early pre-cancerous lesion that can be treated quite easily or just watched. It is not typically found alone in any advanced breast cancer. The next step for your sister is the schedule an appointment with the physician that ordered the mammogram (most likely her primary care physician or OBGYN). Most likely she will need either additional imaging such as an ultrasound, MRI, or a breast biopsy to sort out if the calcifications represent and early form of cancer (precancerous lesion) or not. Good luck.
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