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Why do my breasts repeatedly develop abnormal microcalcifications requiring biopsy?

By July 15, 2009 - 12:38pm
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Two years ago, after recovering from a complete hysterectomy, I had a routine mammogram which revealed an abnormal cluster of microcalcifications on my right breast. I had a stereotactic biopsy, and thankfully, the results from the biopsy were negative. The report from the pathologist said something about "fibrocystic changes." Since then, I have been required to have mammograms every six months. Last summer I moved to the Phoenix area, and was about six months behind in setting up my routine mammogram through my new gynecologist. Before the mammogram, I was able to obtain my prior films and some, but not all, of my medical records, and provide them to my new doctors in Arizona. My latest mammogram shows a new abnormal cluster of microcalcifications, now on my left breast. I was ordered to have another stereotactic biopsy as soon as possible, and it is scheduled for this Friday afternoon. I have many questions and concerns about why I seem to get these abnormal calcifications and what they mean (e.g., even if the biopsy results turn out to be negative, am I at risk for developing breast cancer?). But I have been somewhat frustrated by how hard it is to get my questions answered because I am dealing with all new health care providers and have yet to speak with a doctor about any of the recent findings. Oddly, I have not met my new gynecologist yet, and never spoke with the radiologist, as she sent my mammogram results by registered mail and did not even provide a phone number. I was simply instructed to follow up with my gynecologist regarding further evaluation, but when I did, I saw only a nurse practitioner who told me only that I would be referred to a breast surgeon for a stereotactic biopsy and contacted in a couple of days. (It was the end of a long day, and she had little information in front of her and was basically of no help.) Later, the hospital did inform me that I will get the chance to talk with the biopsy doctor immediately before the biopsy on Friday, so I am at least grateful for that. Right now I am in the process of contacting the radiologists in Arizona and my prior home state to make sure that the doctors here have all the information they need to perform the biopsy and evaluate the sample.

Have others found doctors to be inaccessible and experienced the same sort of impersonal treatment I have? Am I taking the right steps to ensure I get the proper treatment from my new providers? And finally, what does it mean to have suspicious breast calcifications? Could my prior hysterectomy be a factor, my lifestyle? Thank you so much! I feel very grateful to be able to turn to the EmpowHer community for answers and information!

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EmpowHER Guest

I have fibrocystic breasts and had a number of needle aspirations through the years. Last November I had a routine mammogram which I put off for 2 years. I had a call back for a second mammogram and the radiologist spoke with me afterwards. He showed me a "cluster of microcalcifications in my right breast and told me it was suspicious for cancer. The microcalcifications were up against my chest wall so no needle biopsy for me. I had surgery to remove the tissue in that area . It was found to be malignant cancer. The radiation oncologist was not happy with the unclear edges of the area removed so I had 35 radiation treatments to the whole breast, chest wall and lymph nodes. That was over this past April. I had a 6 month mammo done and all looked good. Will now have mammos every 6 months for 5 years. I take Letrozole (generic for Femara) to block estrogen because my cancer was estrogen receptive. I thank God I went for that mammo. Should not have waited 2 years. I was lucky that it was caught in the early stage. Please have regular mammograms. Saved my life.

December 21, 2016 - 1:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

I also have to go next week for another biopsy. I just had one 6 months ago and they said they now see new micro calcification's. I am frustrated. The first biopsy came back showing fibrocystic changes. I am 53 years old. So now another biopsy. I'm sure this will come back benign again. But what happens in 6 months? Suppose they find another new cluster? another Biopsy? Where does it stop?

May 5, 2015 - 8:25am
(reply to Anonymous)

I am going through the same thing with having reoccurring calcifications that have to be biopsied..how are you doing now?

January 12, 2016 - 7:52pm
EmpowHER Guest

Did you have a baby before your hysterectomy, and if so, were you under the age of 35? I'm a member of Army of Women, and I've heard of them doing studies involving women who have and haven't had a baby before the age of 35. Apparently, women are at greater risk of breast cancer the later they wait to have a baby. The Army of Women has a great site and they're all about breast cancer research and preventing the disease. They might have additional info for you. Good luck with the biopsy. I hope all is well!

July 20, 2009 - 9:17am
Expert HERWriter

Hi Jewel,

Thank you for the post.

You know, not being able to talk with doctor is a problem we're hearing more and more of. Unfortunately, it's really a growing problem and it's only getting worst.

Now, to address your question, microcalcifications of the breast are very common findings on mammograms.

They can be from benign causes or cancerous causes.

There are three patterns of microcalcifications you should be aware of.
1) Benign
2) Highly suspicious for cancer
3) Indeterminate - meaning we can't tell

Most likely, the reason a biopsy is being recommended is because the mammogram has either a highly suspicious or indeterminate results.

I hope that helps you.

I wish you the best of health.

Dr. Harness

July 16, 2009 - 2:30pm

Hey Jewel, we're very happy you found empowher.com. I think you will find other women on our site who have experienced some of what you're talking about here. And it sounds like you are really making the effort to make sure everything goes well.

If I were you, I might put in another request for all of your medical records. You have a right to them. I would also ask for explanations.

Another idea might be to take a list of questions like the ones you have here and take them into your doctor prior to the surgery along with any others you can think of. The following links offer some really great resources specific to breast biopsies that may serve as a great basis for questions or possibly answer some existing questions.

What is a biopsy? and

Breast biopsy

In addition to asking your doctor, we will forward your question to one of our experts here at EmpowHer.com. It may take a day or two to receive an answer, so hang in there.

In the meantime, I'm sure other women will weigh in on their experiences. You have our support here. Will you also update us on the results?

July 15, 2009 - 8:33pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Tina Tran)

I had suspicious microcalcifications last year at this time. they biopsied three areas and all were benign --i did a follow up 6 months later with a probably benign reading. the other day i had another mammogram which came back once again with suspicious microcalcifications and was called by my breast surgeon for another biopsy. what i found out later which was unknown to all the radiologists never saw my old films because they were taken over by a new company. big foul up -- what does this mean to me -- can these microcalcifications been old ones that looked suspicious. thank you for responding to me -- so frustrated and scared!!

November 20, 2009 - 10:32pm
(reply to Anonymous)


Can I just go ahead and let out a big scream for you? Because I'm sure that's what you felt like when you found out that the radiologists never saw your old films!

What exactly did the radiologists tell you? Do they HAVE your old films and just didn't look at them? Or do they not have the old films?

Let's go one step at a time.

I understand that there are these people involved:
1. your doctor (your doctor is the same through all these procedures, right?)
2. the radiologists (which were taken over by a new company)
3. your breast surgeon.

And there should be these records somewhere:
1. Your mammogram from a year ago
2. Your biopsies from a year ago
3. Your mammogram from six months ago
4. Your mammogram from the other day

Am I right in all of the above?

I think the first thing I would do (you have probably already done this) is talk to my primary doctor and see if she or he has copies of all these in my file.

If that doesn't work, I would try the breast surgeon, to see if she or he still had copies of my previous mammograms and biopsies on file.

If that doesn't work, I would talk to a supervisor at the radiologist's office to see what happened to all the old films and why they weren't compared to the new ones. I would also ask for a copy for myself of anything they have on file for me to prevent this from happening in the future.

Do you know exactly where in your breast(s) these suspicious calcifications are? And are they in the same place(s) as before?

I would certainly think that it's possible that they're the same, since you have a history of this and since they were there six months ago. But the most important thing is that someone needs to be able to compare the old with the new. Unfortunately, you are the one who may need to make this happen. Can you start with your doctors, and let us know what they say?

November 23, 2009 - 9:09am
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