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Topic: Calcifications Freak Out

Forum: Waiting for Test Results —

For members not diagnosed with breast cancer, but waiting for test results:  Biopsy, mammogram, ultrasound, or other screening tests. Waiting is VERY difficult but remember...

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength." -- Corrie Ten Boom

Posted on: Jun 11, 2008 07:25AM

Kooks wrote:

Hi everyone,

First, thanks to everyone for posting your thoughts and concerns. Reading them has helped me a lot lately. I am also a recent player in the waiting game and I have a question about calcifications.

I went for a baseline mammogram a few weeks ago (I'm 38) and to my great surprise they found abnormalities. Long story short is after about 3,000 magnifications views, I was given the following report classified as Category 4B (intermediate suspicion).

"The breast is heterogeneously dense (51%-75% fibroglandular). This may lower the sensitivity of mammography. Multiple clusters of amorphous and fine, linear calcifications are present primarily in the lower inner quadrant. Some of these are very faint and difficult to identify on two views. The images have been marked and saved with 3 groups identified in the ML and CC projections. I suggest core biopsy of groups labeled 1 and 3, as they are distant from each other and will help determine further management if biopsy is positive. Group #2 is too superficial and too faint for needle biopsy. Additional clustered calcifications are also present."

Okay, deep breath, so I have to go for a core biopsy this Friday (two agonizing weeks after the finding). I have researched a lot (scary) and understand that these findings are suspicious of cancer, but not as suspicious as they could be (BI-RAD 5).

So my big question is what type of cancer could this be? I know there are many types of BC and I wonder if you have calcifications but no mass does this signify DCIS or can it indicate any number of BC types?

I am confused and if anyone has any idea what type of BC calcifications like this might signify I would really appreciate any info!

Also, can breastfeeding cause calcifications? I stopped 8 months ago (my son is 17 months old)....


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Jun 11, 2008 08:17AM doucmpuppiespn wrote:

Kooks, I too am going through the exact same thing you are, but I had my biopsy done yesterday.  They said the calcifications were faint to read and took 20+ pictures before and after the biopsy.  I too am very scared about what kind of BC.  I've been told and have read that we have 80% of being benign, but what concerns me is the density of my breasts, & very many cysts that showed on the MRI.  I'm unaware of the BI-RAD score.  I am 44 and my first mammo last year was clear, then this year I was called back for a more in depth mammo which found the calcifications.  They ordered 2 core biopsies and the Dr. yesterday decided only to do 1.  This is so nerve wracking although they try to explain everything to you.  I can tell you that this site has been a blessing to me from reading all these ladies' posts.  It has been more informative to me than any research I have tried to do.  I will hope for the best for you and these ladies will be awesome for you!  I am waiting for my results and hope they got enough tissue to make a definite dg for me.

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Jun 11, 2008 08:38AM Kooks wrote:

Hi NC. Thanks for you well wishes! I really hope everything comes out good for you too. It would be nice if the docs gave us more info up front, but maybe they want to keep us form worrying too much (more than we are already!). But the waiting is awful, the days just seems to drag on..... Thank goodness for site like this where we can take comfort in others. Very best wishes. Please let us know what happens!!!

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Jun 11, 2008 09:50AM - edited Jun 11, 2008 09:53AM by SandyToes

Hello Ladies,

I, too, had my first stereotactic core biopsy yesterday and am glad to have it behind me. It was not very pleasant, but I don't think I will ever complain about a mamo again!  Oh, what lovely shades of color I am seeing on my breast today.  It is not too sore , a bit tender. 

Kooks, I checked with the clinic where my biopsy would be done, some give you valium.  Mine does not so my internist prescribed something for anxiety.  I took one the night before and one the next morning and one right before the procedure.  It really helped to take the "edge" off of everything. 

They also put on a small icepack but my ride home was an hour so I was glad that I had some cold icepacks in a cooler in my friend's car.

Hopefully, I will have results by the weekend.

Hang in there.  I was a bit overwhelmed at first but finally hooked up with the nurse coordinator at the clinic and she took all the time in the world to answer questions and explain things.

Take care.

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Jun 11, 2008 11:04AM tmac wrote:

Hi girls,

I had my baseline in Feb. and had my stereotactic biopsy for a cluster of calcifications the next day (they had an opening, I took it).  I barely had time to research anything by the time I got my results.  My mammo wasn't too bad, considering all the horror stories I've heard.  However, I really don't know how I made it thru the biopsy.  It happened so quickly I didn't know 100% how stereotactic worked, which was probably a good thing bc I'm terrified of needles. 

Unfortuantely, my cluster was directly behind my nipple, so everything I had done had to be numbed twice etc. bc the nipple is extra sensitive. 

Luckily, my radiologist called late Friday so I wouldn't have to wait over the weekend.  I was dx w/DCIS, ductal carcinoma in situ.  Ofcourse, I was shocked, and tried not to initially panic.  Once I got on the computer and researched, w/in a couple of hours my anxiety had lessoned.  Everything I found said, "non life threatening and non invasive" two things you want to hear.  Just know that "in situ" is a good thing.  It means "in place", which means the cancer is not invasive.  Some docs think of DCIS as pre-cancerous.  In fact, my ob-gyn kept insisting I didn't have cancer. 

Anyway, having DCIS in one spot in your breast is good, as opposed to multiple sites.  I can only speak @ my situation, having one site (long story, other concerns arouse thru out the consultations process).  Since you had stereotactic biopsies, I assume there was not a lump?  The first breast specialist I saw for a consult describe the calcifications (which looked like grains of sand) as seeds, not yet opened or clustered enough to form a lump. 

Try not to read or research too much, as that will heighten your already heightened anxiety.  I know it's hard to sit and wait, but I didn't research anything until I knew for sure what I was up against.  For me, it worked.  While I waited, I worked and kept myself busy w/ my children.  If it's DCIS in one site, you should have the luxury of time to get other opinions and make an informed decision.  Take advantage of the time, rather than rushing into something. 

Good luck w/all of your results.  I never knew how strong a person I was until this happened, my husband, too. 


Dx 2/8/2008, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jun 11, 2008 11:11AM tmac wrote:

Oh, after the dx, I started with a breast specialist (BS), which is a breast surgeon specializing in diseases of the breast.  I had 4 (I know, a lot) consultations, then had two consults w/ a reconstructive surgeon or plastic surgeon (PS) just to hear their take on things if I decided to go an aggressive tx. route.  I think it is common to start the process w/ a BS rather than an oncologist.  We learned soooo much thru out the process.  I won't even begin to tell you @ managed care. 

Hopefully, you will not have to go down this road at all, just an FYI.


Dx 2/8/2008, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jun 11, 2008 03:24PM - edited Jun 11, 2008 03:36PM by julz4

Hi to you all! Sorry you needed to come here but we all are glad to help you! I had my baseline mammo at 40 everything was fine. Fast forward to this yr. I'm now 41 micro cals seen w/ yrly mammo 1st week of march. Could not get in for a diagnostic mammo til April. I called everyday to see if the hospital had any cancellations sometimes twice a day! That just how they do things at our hospital. They finally called me 1 week before my scheduled appt. they had a cancellation. I took it. I too then was given a birad 4 rating & they wanted me to have a stereo needle core biop. I decided to see my sis in-laws bs, I met him the yr before & really liked him. Fast forward through seeing him & him doing the biopsy. There were 2 spots to biop but only 1 could be seen clear enough to do the biop. I finally got all my answers May 14th. It's been a long wait. My results came back B9! But the dr is going to keep an eye through dx mammos every 6 months. So I have more waiting to do. Sept. 29 I go for the next 1.

The point is that - the only good lump or spot is the one in the jar. And that even a birad score of 5 comes back negative too. So I'm proof that  a lot of birad 4's come back negative, 80%. If you need any prescription help to get you through the tough times it's o.k.. This is one time you don't need to be a super woman. It's perfectly fine to rant, rave, cry, scream what ever helps you. Know that you will not be alone!  We will be here for you!

Here's hoping that your wait is short & sweet (B9 results)! Julee! 

P.S. - You can pm me by clicking on my screen name. Then clicking the personal message in left hand side of your screen. I will try & help in any way I can!

DX-5/15/2012, Partcial Mastectomy 5/22/201, DX-5/30/2012, Tumor DCIS/MI 2.8cmStage T1, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-PR-. 9-/25/2014 Review of slides with new Dr's at Hopkins 1.5mm invasion found.
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Jun 11, 2008 03:57PM rockwell_girl wrote:

Kook's I hope your biopsy goes well Friday and gives you B9 results.  Remember 80% of the time that happens : - )

I had 7 clusters they did a biopsy on 2 of them which showed DCIS.

Sandy/Sunshine : ) Dx 3/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 12, 2008 08:25AM Kooks wrote:

Thanks to everyone for your comments! I am going for the biopsy tomorrow. i will let you all know what happens. (deep breath...)

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Jun 12, 2008 08:41AM lvtwoqlt wrote:

Kooks, I have had several abnormal mammos since I started getting them 15 yrs ago. Calcifications can be b-9 up to 80% of the time so don't start worrying yet. I had 2 previous abnormal mammos with stero biopsies that were b-9. the last one was DCIS and I am doing great now.

Keep taking the deep breaths, and when I was on the stero table, I practiced my yoga breathing and focusing on my 'happy place'. Valium is your friend when doing the biopsy.


Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006 Surgery 2/12/2005 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 9/10/2006 Lumpectomy: Right Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes Surgery 6/1/2007 Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Jun 12, 2008 10:35AM leaf wrote:

Most calcifications are benign. I'm not completely sure, but I think ***IF*** it was cancerous, the most frequent diagnosis would be DCIS, and if not, then invasive.

I had calcifications, and ended up with a diagnosis of LCIS. LCIS without any thing worse is a fairly unusual diagnosis.

I completely agree with Sheila. I recently finished some biofeedback training, and if I had to do my biopsies again, I would certainly use that. For me, it helps to breathe into your abdomen, not your chest or shoulders. I find it helpful to try to breathe out tension (pretend you are exhaling your tension), and to become as heavy and loose as possible.

Know we are thinking of you!

Classic LCIS.If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them- Isaac Asimov Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, ER+/PR- Surgery 1/24/2006 Lumpectomy: Left Hormonal Therapy 7/15/2006 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jun 18, 2008 01:02PM NNN9495 wrote:

I'm Nancy, 46 and had my baseline mammogram at 39.  A few years ago I had to have additional view mammography done as that is when calcifications first appeared. In April my compression mammography showed a suspicious cluster of calcs on the left side and was rated BIRAD-4. 

I had my first sterotactic biopsy 2 weeks ago and the califications in question turned out to be benign. The procedure was not a pleasant experience for me but I'm glad such early diagnostic testing is available.  I did take some anti-anxiety medication beforehand and asked for more local anesthetic and it was given to me ;o)

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Jun 18, 2008 01:03PM Kooks wrote:

My microcalcifications were benign, so I am (obviously) breathing a HUGE sigh of relief. To all of you out there who are waiting for results, please don't assume the worst. I will be thinking of all of you and wishing you all the best of luck.

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Jun 18, 2008 01:28PM tmac wrote:

Kooks & Nancy,

Great news!  I'm sure you will sleep well tonight!  I'm curious, were your mammo's digital?  Mine was.  I also had a cluster of calcs. right behind my nipple (ouch), and I was told if I had not had a digital mammo, the cluster would not have shown up.  So, I'm telling all my friends if you aren't digital yet, find a breast center that is!  Thank goodness these things are being detected soooo early.  

It's always great to hear good news, thanks for sharing.   


Dx 2/8/2008, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jun 18, 2008 02:17PM Aug242007 wrote:

Everyone should remember again dense breast tissue means that they cannot see the breast.  Microcalsifications can be DCIS or IDC or benign.  Unless they all have been biopsied your doctor does not know if they are benign.  With dense breast tissue, it is impossible to know.

IDC 2.2 cm 2007 lumpectomy then BMX 2008, Oncotype 11, AIs for 10 years, Chris Rock states "the U.S. will never cure cancer, the money is in the medicine". Dx 8/24/2007, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 12/18/2007 Surgery Mastectomy Surgery Lumpectomy Radiation Therapy
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Jun 18, 2008 05:32PM Beesie wrote:

Melissa, what you say is only partially true.  And certainly a biopsy is not needed for the majority of cases of calcifications, even for women who have dense breast tissue. 

It's true that if you have dense breast tissue, mammograms may be harder to read.  I have "extremely dense breast tissue" (those were the radiologist's words on my last mammogram report) but my calcifications - both the benign ones in my left breast and the DCIS ones in my right breast - were visible on a mammogram.  A diagnostic mammogram provided a better view, and an MRI provided an even better picture of what was going on.  So despite having dense breasts, regular screening worked fine for me, as it does for most women (even those with dense breasts).  Of course, women who have dense breast tissue certainly should be more carefully screened, with ultrasounds and possibly MRIs in addition to mammograms.

As for determining whether calcifications are benign or not, it's true that BC can only be diagnosed via a biopsy, which technically means that a benign condition can also only be confirmed via a biopsy.  However in reality a diagnostic mammogram often is all that's needed.  Calcifications usually (but not always) show up on a mammogram. When they do, while a regular mammogram might not be clear enough to determine the pattern, a diagnostic mammogram, which provides a magnified view, usually is clear enough for a radiologist to determine the pattern of the calcifications.  If the calcifications are clustered or linear, then a biopsy is necessary. 80% of these cases will still turn out to be benign, but with a clustered or linear pattern, there is no way to know without the biopsy.  However if the diagnostic mammogram shows the calcifications to be scattered with no defined pattern, then it can be said with virtual certainty that they are benign.   No biopsy is necessary.  This holds true whether someone has 'normal' breasts or 'dense' breasts, so long as the calcifications can be seen on the mammogram.   

I certainly agree that extra care needs to be taken for any woman who has dense breast tissue, but I wouldn't want someone to worry unnecessarily if they only have a diagnostic mammogram and are not sent for a biopsy. 

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Jun 19, 2008 06:39AM Kooks wrote:

Thanks! I am so happy. One nagging thought did occur to me, however. They only biopsied two out of three areas they saw. Is this normal? I think the other areas were too close to the skin. And yes, they were digital. I totally agree that early detection is a huge help.

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