On Friday we discussed heart disease and the importance of caring for your heart and vascular system. That led us to today’s topic – vascular calcifications in the breast. It might be something you have never thought or heard of before today.
Normally there are blood vessels in breast tissue. Sometimes these blood vessels can be seen on your breast imaging studies. Sometimes these blood vessels have calcification in the walls that show up on a mammogram (remember that calcifications are one of the things we look for on a mammogram). We are trying to detect calcifications first and then determine their nature and significance once detected.
Calcifications in blood vessels of the breast may be mentioned in your mammogram report, often described or listed as vascular calcifications. So what should you do with this information? Worry or not? Let’s discuss.
Vessel calcifications in the breast are not a sign of breast cancer. They do not lead to breast cancer. They can sometimes require extra mammographic images to prove they are vessel calcifications rather than another type of calcification in the breast tissue. Many times we see them in patients that are completely healthy with no heart disease or cardiovascular risk factors.
This is especially true for women over the age of 60. If we see a lot of vessel wall calcification in a younger woman (less than 60), it can be a sign of blood vessel disease elsewhere. This can be the first sign of other “hardening of the arteries”, which can lead to heart disease or stroke. Vessel wall calcification can also be found in women who have breastfed for a long time, a benign change.
So, if you are under the age of 60 and have vascular calcification on mammography, it’s worth discussing with your primary care provider. It may be sign of other vascular disease elsewhere in your body. Information on your mammogram beyond just your breast health that can help you be your healthiest you.
Originally published 10/7/13 on mammographykc.com.