First of all, what are breast calcifications? They refer to calcium deposits in the breast tissue, and their presence might indicate early breast cancer, though chances of this are very small. Breast calcifications are detected by a mammogram. If you received news from your doctor that you have breast calcifications, it’s very important that you know what you should do next, and how you could handle it. Here are some of the best tips to help you out:
Know the two major kinds of breast calcifications. Breast calcifications are usually categorized as macrocalcifications and microcalcifications.
Macrocalcifications refer to large, widely-dispersed and round calcifications, and though they are more common, they are usually benign.
Microcalcifications are small, clumped together, and appear irregularly-shaped. They are more likely to be associated with cancer than macrocalcifications.
Know the implications. First of all, know that breast calcifications are relatively common, especially among women of menopausal age; in fact, they can occur in about 50% of women in the US who are over 50 years old. The important thing is that these calcifications have been detected, and your doctor could decide on the proper treatment based on their extent and degree. It is good to know that breast calcifications – especially macrocalcifications - are usually not cancerous.
Know the common procedures done afterwards. In case of a small extent of calcification and of macrocalcifications, doctors usually adopt a “wait-and-see” plan of action; that is, they would usually recommend a follow-up mammogram after six months so they could monitor how the calcification develops. In case no changes happen, they usually recommend a diagnostic mammogram as well as routine examination on the other breast. After a year with no changes in the calcification, doctors would usually recommend a yearly mammogram for the patient, with no treatment unless changes do occur.
In case the calcifications seem to be more extensive, or if it is a case of microcalcification, the doctor will usually order for a biopsy, or the removal of a very small amount of tissue, in order to test whether these calcifications are malignant or benign.
There are also radiologists and specialists who may prefer to take a more aggressive approach to analyzing the calcifications, and may immediately recommend a biopsy upon detection.
Write down your questions. Once you hear the news about your mammogram results, give yourself time to think it over and let it sink in. Afterwards, sit down and write down all the questions that you intend to ask your doctor. Don’t worry about sounding silly or naïve; if you want to know the answer to something, ask it. Then schedule another appointment with your doctor, and make sure that all your questions get answered adequately. Remember: knowing what you’re up against will help you prepare for whatever it is you need to do for the next coming months or years.
Join support groups. It will certainly help you if you get in touch with other people who have undergone or are undergoing the same experience as you. Not only will you find emotional support, chances are you’d also get pointed to the right direction towards the best doctors and treatment options for you.
There you have it! These are just some of the steps you could take to handle the news that you have breast cancer calcifications. Remember, arming yourself with information will definitely help you through this time! Good luck, and hope this helped you out!