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Microcalcifications are small deposits of calcium that accumulate in the breast from a variety of sources. Calcium is a byproduct of cell metabolism. (In other words the trash from the cells doing their job). Calcium can be formed in cancers and also in benign or non-cancerous lesions.


The difficulty in this process is determining what the source of the calcium is. If we could tell just by looking at the mammogram whether or not the calcium is coming from a cancer, there would be no need to do 70-80% of the breast biopsies each year. Since we cannot determine this by looking alone, we need to biopsy enough of the calcium deposits so that we do not miss the cancers.


The breast is a living organ, and as such changes occur monthly that are under the influence of hormone changes in the body. Our ultimate goal is to find a cancer as early as possible or better yet identify tissue in the breast that is beginning to exhibit bad behavior otherwise known as “<cellular atypia>”. (Cells that are dividing faster than normal but not fast enough or bizarre enough to be called cancer).


Microcalcifications can be classified as clustered, pleomorphic, branching, snakeskin, crushed stone, vascular, dystrophic, scattered, or any number of varieties of the former. Depending upon the specifics of the calcium deposit, a biopsy may be recommended. Most microcalcifications are able to be sampled via minimally invasive vacuum assisted <stereotactic biopsy>. If the breast is very small, calcium is close to the chest wall or under the nipple, or at the surgeons discretion, an open <surgical biopsy using a needle localization> technique may be warranted.

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