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Suspicious Microcalcifications
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Suspicious Microcalcifications

I'm 45 yrs. old and recently had my yearly mammogram.  I was notified that I needed to have additional spot compression magnification views to an area of "4 to 6 small, somewhat irregular microcalcifications". This has happened in the past so I wasn't concerned this time.  Following the additional views I was told I needed a Mammotome biopsy ASAP (March 9th).  The report for the add'l views reads "examination demonstrates a cluster of microcalcifications which are pleomorphic and slightly variable in density.  There appears to be no associated soft tissue mass."  Could you please explain this terminology.  If there is no mass, what exactly are they going to biopsy?  I have a history of breast cancer on both sides of my family - mother, maternal grandmother, paternal aunt - and am getting very nervous about this biopsy and further findings.
Thank you for your wonderful site.
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Dear trendy:  Microcalcifications are normal developments in breast tissue.  Pleomorphic means that they do not look uniform.  When microcalcifications appear clustered, there is some concern that they are developing around an area of abnormality.  A biopsy is recommended to make sure that there is no cancer "hiding" amongst the calcifications.  The biopsy targets the calcifications and removes the them.  The tissue can then be analyzed.  There are many situations in which the biopsy will be benign but its best to be safe - especially given your history.
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"pleomorphic" means "several different shapes." That is often the case with calcifications due to cancer; however, it's also seen in benign conditions. Moreover, when there are less than 10 calcifications, the chance of cancer is very low. There needn't be a mass for a biopsy to be done: they aim at the calcifications and remove them, whether or not a mass is seen. It sounds like it's highly likely these will turn out to be ok.
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