Alright, buckle up, because we’re about to talk about boob marbles, also known as breast calcifications. These little guys are like tiny specks of calcium that can hang out anywhere in your breast tissue, and most of the time, you won’t even feel them. They are also more common than you think.
Types of breast calcifications
Calcifications can be classified into two types: macrocalcifications and microcalcifications.
Macrocalcifications are large, coarse deposits of calcium that are usually benign and not associated with breast cancer. They are often caused by aging or changes in breast tissue, such as cysts or fibroadenomas.
Microcalcifications, on the other hand, are tiny, fine deposits of calcium. They can be an early sign of breast cancer and require further evaluation.
There are three types of microcalcifications: benign, indeterminate, and malignant.
Benign calcifications are usually associated with non-cancerous breast conditions, such as fibrocystic changes, inflammation, or trauma.
Indeterminate calcifications are those that cannot be clearly identified as benign or malignant based on their appearance on mammography. These calcifications often require further testing, such as a biopsy, to determine their nature.
Malignant calcifications are those that are associated with breast cancer. Malignant calcifications can be further classified into two types: punctate and pleomorphic.
Punctate calcifications are small, round, and uniform in shape. They are usually benign but can be associated with early-stage breast cancer.
Pleomorphic calcifications, on the other hand, are irregular in shape and size and can be a sign of more advanced breast cancer.
How common are breast calcifications?
Breast calcifications are relatively common and can be found in women of all ages. In fact, up to 50% of women over the age of 50 have breast calcifications, although they can also occur in younger women. While breast calcifications are more common in postmenopausal women, younger women should still do regular medical check-ups to stay on guard.
Can males have breast calcifications too?
Although breast cancer is much less common in men than in women, men can develop breast calcifications. Men have breast tissue and can develop the same types of breast conditions as women, including benign and malignant calcifications. If a man notices any changes in his breast tissue, he should seek medical attention right away.
What percentage of breast calcifications are cancer?
According to one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suspicious calcifications that require follow-up testing turn out to be cancer approximately 12% to 40% of the time. However, other research suggests that many of these cases are likely false positives, where a possible or questioned cancer diagnosis turns out to be benign.
The likelihood of cancer depends on various factors, such as the appearance and distribution of the calcifications on the mammogram, your age, and your personal and family medical history. In general, punctate calcifications are more likely to be benign, while pleomorphic calcifications are more likely to be associated with breast cancer.
How do I know if I have breast calcifications? Do hard things in my breasts equal to breast calcifications?
Breast calcifications can only be detected through mammography. If you have not had a mammogram, you will not know whether you have breast calcifications. It is important to note that not all hard lumps in the breast are calcifications. Breast tissue can become firm or lumpy due to hormonal changes, cysts, fibroadenomas, or other conditions.
A review of the medical records of approximately 64,000 Dutch women revealed that mammography is offered to all women aged 50 to 74 every other year in the Netherlands. The study found that nearly 16% of invasive cancers could have been identified before becoming invasive if women had undergone further imaging when calcifications were detected. Timely detection could also have reduced the proportion of tumors larger than 20 mm.
If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a lump or thickening, nipple discharge, or changes in the skin or nipple, you should see your doctor for evaluation. Your doctor may recommend a mammogram or other tests, such as an ultrasound or biopsy, to determine the cause of the changes.
7 plausible causes of breast calcifications
- Normal aging: As women age, their breast tissue can naturally accumulate calcium deposits.
- Inflammation: Inflammation in the breast can cause calcium deposits to form.
- Infection: Infections can also cause calcifications to form in the breast tissue.
- Injury: Trauma to the breast tissue can cause calcifications to form as part of the healing process.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy and menopause, can also cause calcifications to form.
- Benign breast conditions: Certain benign breast conditions, such as fibroadenomas or breast cysts, can cause calcifications to form.
- Breast cancer: While most breast calcifications are benign, they can also be a sign of breast cancer. If calcifications appear suspicious on a mammogram, further testing may be necessary to determine if cancer is present.
Breast calcifications that are cancerous are frequently associated with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a type of breast cancer that develops within the milk ducts. DCIS is considered a non-invasive form of breast cancer since it hasn’t extended beyond the milk ducts
Can a mammogram be incorrect in identifying breast calcifications?
Mammograms are a useful tool for detecting breast calcifications, but like all medical tests, they can sometimes produce incorrect results. It is possible for a mammogram to miss some breast calcifications or for the radiologist to misinterpret the images and overlook suspicious calcifications.
In some cases, a mammogram may detect benign calcifications that appear suspicious, leading to further testing or even a biopsy, only to find out later that the calcifications were not cancerous. This can cause unnecessary anxiety and medical expenses for the patient.
On the other hand, in rare cases, a mammogram may fail to detect cancerous calcifications that are present in the breast, leading to a false negative result. If you have concerns about the accuracy of your mammogram results, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
How are breast calcifications treated?
If you have breast calcifications in your breasts, your natural reaction would be “OH MY GOSH I AM FREAKING OUT”. We understand, but stay calm first, as mentioned, most of the time, these calcifications are harmless and don’t need any treatment, but you gotta keep an eye on them with regular mammograms.
If after the mammograms, the doctors suspected that the breast calcifications may be cancerous, you might need to do further testing like a biopsy. And if cancer is detected, you might need some serious treatment like surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. But don’t worry, every case is different, and you need to work with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
How can I prevent breast calcifications?
The reason why breast calcifications occur in some individuals and not in others remains unclear. According to researchers, there are currently no identified risk or lifestyle factors that are known to cause calcifications.
That being said, doctors and researchers still suggest that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol consumption – is a good way to possibly lower the chance of getting breast calcifications caused by body inflammation.
Obviously, as we said time and time again, mammograms are great for detecting if you have breast calcifications. But come on, we don’t really have that kind of money to do it ALL THE TIME. That’s why we all women should learn the proper way to self-examination our breasts. We recommend you to perform regular breast self-examinations to detect any changes in your breast tissue. If you notice any unusual lumps or bumps, see a doctor right away.