- Microcalcifications: tiny specks of calcium that may appear alone or in clusters. An area of microcalcification does not always mean that cancer is present. In fact, the majority of microcalcifications are benign.
- Macrocalcifications: indicate a benign condition and do not require a biopsy.
In some cases, the radiologist will determine that the calcifications have a benign type of appearance, but should be followed closely with another mammogram in six months to ensure that they do not change. In other cases, the calcifications may have an uncertain or suspicious appearance, and a biopsy will be ordered.
Masses are evaluated by obtaining additional specialized mammography pictures, by using ultrasound of the breast, or with an MRI scan of the breast. Masses and asymmetries in the breast can be cancerous or noncancerous. Noncancerous masses can be due to a fluid-filled cyst or tissue mass, such as a fibroadenoma. After masses have been fully evaluated, some can be carefully monitored with a repeat mammogram or breast ultrasound in 6 months, while others may require a biopsy.
Indications for Diagnostic (problem-solving) Mammography:
- Palpable lump or thickening of breast tissue
- Spontaneous nipple discharge, especially if it is from a single duct and bloody or clear
- Focal (localized) breast pain or tenderness
- Skin changes such as thickening, puckering or retraction
- Abnormal screening mammogram (referred to as a "call-back" for follow-up)
- Short interval follow up of a probably benign finding
- Initial six-month follow up after breast core biopsy or surgical biopsy
- Personal history of breast cancer undergoing current treatment
- Axillary adenopathy
- Metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary site