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What causes microcalcifications?

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Quick Answer

Microcalcifications occur due to changes such as death of cells, infections and injuries in aging breast tissues, according to Saint Michael's Medical Center in New Jersey. Microcalcifications are a normal occurrence, but they are an indication of malignancy if they assume certain patterns.

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Full Answer

Microcalcification deposits are the smallest particles that a mammogram can display. The calcium deposits occur due to normal aging that leads to the death of cells in a woman's breast. Inflammation and past trauma to the breast area also cause calcification, notes WebMD. However, calcium from the diet does not cause calcifications.

Microcalcifications may comprise of calcium phosphate salt or calcium oxalate salt depositions, says Radiopedia.org. Radiologists use hematoxylin and eosin stain diagnosis to identify the calcium phosphate deposits, while calcium oxalate deposits appear better under polarized light diagnosis. The classification of breast calcifications helps doctors to distinguish risky microcalcifications from those that are harmless.

A cluster of many microcalcifications in one area is an indication of a small cancer and calls for a closer examination from a radiologist, says Imaginis. Calcifications that follow a duct path or that have irregularly shaped edges could also be malignant, notes Saint Michael's Medical Center. When microcalcifications are dubious, radiologists perform successive mammograms to classify them as benign, probably benign or suspicious, says WebMD.

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