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Atlas of breast cancer early detection

Breast imaging – Mammography interpretation – Mammography lexicon – Calcifications


Breast calcifications may form within the terminal ducts (intraductal calcifications) or in the acini (lobular calcifications). The mammography features and the risk of malignancy will vary depending on the location.

  • Intraductal calcifications form in the intralobular portion of the terminal duct and are suspicious for malignancy. They are seen as fine linear or fine-linear branching patterns of calcifications. The cellular debris or secretions within the ductal lumen become calcified and are seen on mammography as non-uniform calcifications of variable shapes and sizes (pleomorphic).
  • Lobular calcifications are almost always benign. They fill the dilated acini in larger portions of the breast or the entire breast affected by the benign process. They are seen as round, sharply outlined calcifications in diffuse distribution on mammography. Large acini reveal typically benign milk-of-calcium calcifications.
Diagrammatic representation of breast calcifications


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