Q: Is it possible my calcifications are not malignant, even if my mother's breast cancer was diagnosed after calcifications were found on a routine mammogram?
My mother has had breast cancer twice - two separate types - once in each breast. She has been successfully treated and is doing well, but there is a very strong history of breast/ovarian cancer in our family. Because of that history, she was tested and is negative for the BRAC genes. She was on hormone replacement therapy for over 20 years. I am 41 and recently had a routine mammogram (have had them every year since age 35) and it showed a very tiny, "worm-like" cluster of calcifications - in the upper right quadrant of my right breast - but there is no palpable lump. My last mammogram, a year ago, was clear and my last manual exam by my ob/gym was 2 months ago and she felt nothing. My mother's cancer was first diagnosed with a routine mammogram which showed microcalcifications. Is it possible mine are benign, even though my family history is so strong? Because of my family history, the radiologist told me he would normally wait and re-mammogram in 3 -6 months but he doesn't want to wait in my case and I'm scheduled for a biopsy on Tuesday. Any assurance you could give would be most appreciated. I am 30 years younger than my mother and was hoping I wouldn't have to deal with this for a very long time.
Hi - It's good you're being proactive about your health, given your family history of breast cancer. Microcalcifications in and of themselves aren't cancerous; but they can be a "shadow" of cancer, signalling its presence or its future development in that spot. And while most microcalcifications turn out to be no problem, when they present themselves in a cluster or pattern, rather than scattered, there's a greater likelihood of cancer being involved.
I think your doctor is doing the right thing, given your increased risk. You need to be extra careful. That said, about 85% of all breast biopsies are negative - so statistically speaking, the odds are on your side. I know this is scary for you; and in the end, there's a chance that this will turn out to be cancer. But think about it - since you've seen no sign of cancer at all, and can feel no lump, and mammograms have shown no lump, if it IS cancer it's undoubtedly extremely early, and thus very, very treatable.
Best of luck to you. And come on back, if you need to - we can help. PJH
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