Calcium is an important constituent of the body. Sometimes it gets deposited on certain specific areas of the body. In case of women deficiency of calcium results is osteoporosis. Sometimes after menopause, small spots of calcium get deposited in breast tissues. This process is called calcification and is quite common in women. Deposit could be due to natural process or due to inflammation of some foreign bodies like implants or stitches on which calcification take place.
Collagen is an insoluble protein found in tissues. Along with this protein, calcium phosphate crystals tend to form clumps. These are sometimes confused with cancer lumps. There is a misconception in the mind of some people that calcification in breasts take place due to excess consumption of calcium. Medically this has not been found to be true. However the view that post menopause hormonal changes result in calcium deposits, find support from some quarters but there is no evidence to support this theory.
The calcification can be classified into two. One of them is macro calcification. This type of calcium deposits are generally benign and occur after a woman has reached the age of fifty. This can be due to inflammation, injury or aging of arteries. Micro calcification is another type of calcium deposit found in the breast of a woman. This type of calcification is found as tiny specks of calcium. These are found as clusters and can be cancerous. These cannot be felt on self examination of breast. These are commonly found after menopause. Calcium deposits can also occur due to blocking of milk ducts.
Being very tiny deposits of calcium these cannot be detected by breast self examination or on examination by a doctor, as such it becomes necessary to go in for mammogram to detect calcification. The radiologist will examine the shape, size and pattern of calcification. The x-ray or mammogram is enlarged to detect calcification. If the calcifications are found, the patient may have to undergo biopsy to determine the nature of deposits and to ascertain if it is malignant or not.
The biopsy involves removing a tissue from the affected part for examination and testing. Biopsy is of two types, needle core biopsy or surgical biopsy. In the former a needle is inserted to collect the sample of the tissue. In the latter type, a small surgery is done to remove a tissue. Both types require local anaesthesia.
If after biopsy it is found that the deposits are not malignant these may not require any treatment and the calcium may disappear on its own. However, if due to calcification the breast cyst become painful, draining out of the liquid may be required to provide relief to the patient. If calcification is found by X-ray this should be repeated every six months to notice any change taking place. However, after two three X-ray examinations, X-ray can be got done after one year.