Breast cancer is a serious condition and one of the most prevalent killers of women. It is the most common form of female cancer and accounts for around 30% of all female cancers in the West – approximately 1 in 9 women will be diagnosed with the condition at some point in their life. What some people are not aware of also however is that breast cancer can also occur in males, and a substantial number of men are also diagnosed with the condition every year. Prospects for breast cancer patients vary, but it is certainly potentially painful and can lead to the removal of breasts and other serious operations.
Looking out for early signs and symptoms is one of the best ways to help improve your chances of catching it early and so increasing the likelihood of recovery.
One of these early signs are ‘microcalcifications’ or ‘breast calcifications’. These are small calcium deposits (as the name suggests, a microcalcification is the result of increased calcium in one area of the breast) that appear inside the breast tissue and resemble white spots – usually very small. These are not to be confused with macrocalcifications which are far larger white spots and normally non-cancerous. At the same time, 80% of microcalcifications are benign, and so the appearance of these alone shouldn’t be enough to cause alarm. In fact many women have them (they are even more common after the menopause) and almost every woman will have some on their mammogram at some point.
Warning signs however are if the calcifications are newer and if they are clustered together. Under microscope they may also appear to have an unusual shape – being polygons rather than circular.
Microcalcifications might also ring more alarm bells if they are present alongside other symptoms of breast cancer. Common signs of breast cancer include a clear liquid or blood infused discharge coming from the nipples, nipple retraction, unusual change in breast size or compression or reddening of the skin over the breast. Another sign of breast cancer is that you might find a lump. If you have any reason to suspect you might have breast cancer you should seek medical attention immediately.