Calcification in breast lesions: pathologists' perspective

J Clin Pathol. 2008 Feb;61(2):145-51. doi: 10.1136/jcp.2006.046201. Epub 2007 Aug 17.


Evaluation of calcification in breast lesions is a major assessment criterion for breast mammography. The morphology and distribution of the calcification are related to the histology of the lesions. Radiologically, calcifications can be divided into: benign; intermediate concern; and higher probability of malignancy according to the morphology. Different pathological entities may give rise to different calcifications. Fibrocystic changes may give rise to milk of calcium or teacup type calcification, or small calcifications occurring in a cluster. Fibroadenoma may be associated with large popcorn like calcifications, and sclerosing adenosis may have fine, punctate or granular calcifications. Fat necrosis may give rise to egg shell calcification. Precursor malignant lesions give rise to benign to indeterminate type calcifications, and may occasionally be associated with malignant type calcifications. For malignant lesions, ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive duct carcinoma may be associated with large irregular, rod or V shaped, pleomorphic or branching type calcifications that follow the distribution of the duct. Furthermore, analysis of the characteristics of the calcifications may help to predict the tumour size and grade, and presence of invasion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / classification
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Calcinosis / classification
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcinosis / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnostic imaging
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology