Breast Cancer Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Biopsy of Breast Calcifications

I am a 43 year old female.  I had an abnormal mammogram approximately 7 months ago.  They called me back for diagnostic views which showed calcifications in the right breast.  I was told to come back for another mammogram in 6 months.  I just had that mammogram done and they called me right away and said I needed to see a breast surgeon.  He told me that the calcifications have increased in size and number and that I needed a biopsy.  He said he would be removing a ping-pong sized ball of tissue that would be analyzed for cancer.  I was in such shock about everything that I didn't ask enough questions!  Is this type of biopsy normal procedure for my condition?  How often is this cancerous?  Any opinions would be appreciated!
44 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear moogiemom:  The type of biopsy is usually determined by the breast surgeon.  Often an excisional biopsy (removing a sample of tissue that will include the calcifications) is chosen because it is most likely to confirm the diagnosis and least likely to miss any tissue that might be concerning.
Avatar universal

I am going thru the same thing right now.  I had calcifications on my left breast and was told I needed a biopsy which I had on Sept 3rd.  I was told that 95% of these are just that, calcifications and only 5% are cancer.  Well I have cancer and it is DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ).  I had a lumpectomy on the 21st and did not get clear margins on one end so yesterday (the 5th) I had a 2nd excision to try to get the clear margins.  Today I await the lab result which will tell me if I will have a mastecomy or not.  I am a bundle of nerves today to say the least.

I don't mean to alarm you but that is my story.  But hopefully you will be in the 95%.  Good Luck.  If you want more info my email address is ***@****
Avatar universal
I'm so sorry - my heart goes out to you.  This waiting is the worst part - I can't imagine what you are going through.  Two doctors have told me different cancer rates - I've been told when the calcifications are clustered like mine, 25-30% are cancerous.  I just keep telling myself to get through each step at a time but of course your mind wanders. I will keep you in my prayers for good results today!  Thanks for your email address - I'll check in on you!
Avatar universal
Unless your DCIS is in a fairly small cluster and they plan to remove it all with the "biopsy" (which sounds more like a lumpectomy to me), I would get another option or ask them if they can do a stereotactic biopsy first instead.  I had extensive DCIS in one breast and after having an MRI and stereotactic biopsy to confirm, I underwent a mastectomy on Aug 10th and and very happy with my decision.  They found a 1.6 cm invasive cancer which they had not seen in the other tests and there was no detectable lump as it was behind my nipple.  If you would like to talk more I am   millera04(at)comcast(dot)net
Avatar universal
I ran across this website by accident and sooo glad I did. I too recently discovered I have calcifications. I found a very sore lump in my left breast and had to wait almost a week before I could get in the dr. office.
He did a breast exam and at first said it was probably a cyst it should go away in a month. I went back a month later in late Sept. and had my 1st ever mammo it was scheduled as a routine,and was told immediatly to go to the drs office. I seen the dr and while waiting for the radiology report he did another exam. I thought the lump had either disappeared or had really shrank in size.
Needless to say the mammo found a really big mass of calcifiations in a cluster some what resembling a moon shape on my left side. He told me I needed to see a surgeon that it didn't look very good.
I seen the surgeon and on 10/5 had a sterotatic core needle biopsy done. They removed 12 samples and I still have alot of calcifications in tact. I was told a marker was put in to pin point where exactly the mass is.
I had to wait for 2 days for the results (waiting is the hardest part) and was told it begein.
However I have a couple of other diseases going on along with very dense breast.
It all happened so fast and I was so unprepared I too didn't ask enough question or the right questions. I knew nothing at all about breast cancer untill a week ago, when I started looking up info and message boards.
I am still very confused on what to think or ask or do. I am still really scared that I may still have something hiden somewhere that didn't appear on the mamo. I never had a ultrasound or mri. Today I called the dr's office again, I found a new small hard lump just to the left of my breast bone. Should I ask for a ultrasound? any insight would be greatly appreciated!
Best wishes to you all and God Bless!
Avatar universal
Unfortunately the site is closed and we are unable to get official answers but I can give you advice from my viewpoint as a cancer patient.  Be persistent on the follow-up with your doctors regarding your symptoms.  The fact that your biopsy came back benign is a very good thing but I would wonder why this "new" lump did not appear on the mammo.  My feeling is that any lump should not be ignored.  You did not mention if you have a family history of the disease.  If so, that would give me even MORE of a reason to be persistent.  Not all cancers can be seen on mammos due to breast density therefore it is very important to follow through with any findings that you have on a self breast exam.  I was diagnosed last year with invasive breast cancer after finding a lump.  Mammo and sono were "normal" but I insisted on a biopsy anyway - thank God I did because the "experts" missed a 1.6 cm tumor.  That is why I believe in being persistent.  If you are not comfortable with what the doctor is saying, it is time to find another doctor.  Good luck and God Bless.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your advise! I feel the same way however I guess it just helps hearing from someone else with more expeirense. I started thinking that I was just being to parinoid or somthing I guess.
I have very dense breast and from what I have been finding out, it is a great deal harder to locate small tumors or masses on mamo's with that condition.
As I stated before I am very new to all of this, so new infact when I went for my 1st mamo I didn't even know how the procedure was even done.
I don't have history of bc in my family that I am aware of, however I have CANCER on both sides of my family, mainly cervix, uteran,ovairan & lung. In Feduary of this year I had a cancerous polup removed. NO history of that type either. After researching colon cancer, I had learned usually there is cancer in other places or a greater chance of developing it.
I don't have a copy of my path report,from my breast biopsy I didn't at the time think to ask for it.
But with the 2 other breast diseases I have, my doctor told me I am at a greater risk for it.
I had the biopsy done just a little more than a week ago and pretty much of the swelling is gone, still bruising.
So I have not yet done a complete self exam. I did discover the new small lump just yesterday, not sure if it has been there for a while or not or if it even showed up on the mamo.
I would appreciate any adise, comments, or even if there are certain questions I can ask my dr when I go back next week.
Thanks for you help and God Bless you ALL!!

Avatar universal
Dear Josie,  The following is another cancer site that can be very useful to you:  www.cancer.org      
Go to "choose a cancer topic" then go to "breast cancer" then go to "talking about breast cancer"  This should help you to find and figure out questions to discuss with you doctor.  Also, there is nothing wrong with requesting a sono or an mri although all doctors may not agree with doing it.  Don't give up. Good luck.
Avatar universal
To Josie.
MRI and PET scan. Ultra sound is not reliable.
Avatar universal
I called my dr about the new possible lump. I went to my appt and pin pointed exactly where it was. She told me its "prabably" a cyst, should be ok.
I had made a list with about 25 questions on it to ask, one being about ultrasound, chest xray, and blood test.
She said she thought I had u/s done, she scheduled all tests, everything except the u/s came back ok. I got a call my the nurse saying I needed to come back in for another exam that there was a shawdow appearing type of what looks to be a cyst there, but to be checked anyway.
I have been to this dr now 3-4 times since my biopsy(sterotacic) on 10/5. And feel like I am getting the run around here.
I know they didnt get all the calcifications out in the sterotactic. my original BIRADS rating was a 4.
I still have both lumps there and one is real little smaller than my finger just above my nipple. Which is causing some pain (stinging, and burning) real sensitive.
and suggestions on a second opinion with a breast specialist and a 2nd on the pathology, or should I continue with the same general surgeon and have an excissional biopsy? any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Sorry for posting sooo much, I just cant ask my questions in any other way here.
Thought, hugs and prayers for all thats fighting and waiting.
Avatar universal
Don't apologize for writing too much, we are here for each other.  As a patient, I personally felt more comfortable with a breast specialist.  In fact, I went to a breast oncology surgeon for my biopsy before I even knew.  I guess in my heart I knew I had cancer and decided to cut through the chase.  Don't accept a "probably" answer.  "Probably" doesn't cut it when it comes to your life.  You said you had a birads of 4 which would make me want to investigate this further.  I personally would not feel comfortable with a general surgeon doing a breast excision.  I would want a breast specialist.  Remember, the more of anything that anyone does, the better they do it - technique gets better with practice.  If you feel that you are getting a run-a-round then maybe it is time to move on.  However, this is not something slack off on either.  There is nothing wrong with second opinions.  Take your pathology reports from the stereotatic and find yourself a breast specialist. Until you feel comfortable with what you are being told, you will not be a peace with yourself.  This is not a situation to look back on with regrets.  Remember, you are the priority.  Good luck to you and God Bless.
Avatar universal
Hi all,Ihad a mammagram on 10/29/04.i got a phone call to come back for a magnified mammogram because i had calcification clusters.i went today for that 2nd mammogram.(11/5/04)The radiologist told me that there is 1 cluster that they were concerned about. She suggested that i have a stereotactic core biopsy.i called to make an appointment for the biopsy,and they cannot get me in there till the end of november.one of my questions is,is this too long to wait for a biopsy?Also,what are the statistics of this cluster being malignant?,and if it is only one cluster about the size of a dime,,what are the chances of it having spread into surrounding tissue and lymph nodes if it is canceruos?the radiologist showed me the cluster they were concerned about and it appeared to be confined to one spot .Would it show up on the mammogram if it is cancer and had invaded surrounding tissue?Please help,,i am really scared. I appreciate everyones opinions and comments.thanks,cac1
Popular Resources
A quick primer on the different ways breast cancer can be treated.
Diet and digestion have more to do with cancer prevention than you may realize
From mammograms to personal hygiene, learn the truth about these deadly breast cancer rumors.
Breast cancer is not an inevitability. From what you eat and drink to how much you exercise, learn what you can do to slash your risk.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.