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Microcalcifications vs. breast lumps

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.  Microcalcifications were found on my mammogram and sentinel lymph node biopsy was done with one node being positive (very small).  I'm 45 years old and was diagnosed over one year ago - did chemo, herceptin, radiation and am currently on Femara.  Everything I read about self exams talks about lumps - since mine was microcalcifications, I could not feel it and it was only found by the mammogram.  Are cancerous microcalcifications worse than a cancerous lump?  Do microcalcifications eventually turn into a lump?  What is the difference between the two?  Thank you.
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242527 tn?1292449140
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Dear pattyw1980:  Microcalcifications are small calcium deposits found within the breast tissue and these are normal. Microcalcifications in and of themselves are not a condition that would become cancerous.  However they can be a sign of a problem that may need further investigation based on their appearance on a mammogram.  For instance microcalcifications that are more scattered are probably due to a benign (non-cancerous) cause and microcalcificatins that form a cluster may increase concern that there may be an underlying tumor.  Microcalcifications that are indeterminate may need further investigation such as a diagnostic mammogram to further characterize the calcifications.  Calcifications do not move around but more may form over time.  The pattern of their formation lends clues as to whether or not more investigation is needed.  Considering “lumps” and “microcalcifications,” one is not necessarily worse than another.  The actual tumor size, which may or may not be palpable is a bigger issue.  

Breast cancer can be discovered in a variety of ways and no methods of detection are perfect.  This is why the recommendation is for mammogram, clinical breast examination and monthly self-breast examination.  Sometimes, in high risk women, ultrasound and/or MRI may be added to the mix.  The idea behind multiple methods of detection is that we will be more likely to find a cancer earlier.

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Avatar universal
Thank you for reminding me to stay vigilant.  I'm certainly doing everything suggested, but am just curious about the recurrence/metastasis rate for stage II microcalcifications as opposed to stage II breast lump.
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25201 tn?1255580836
Microcalcifications alone are found normally in breast tissue .... when they are observed in certain groupings or patterns they are indicative of an existing problem (often cancer). Self exams are very important BUT so are Mammograms; as you well know from your experience. We need to stay vigilant.
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25201 tn?1255580836
Microcalcifications themselves are not cancerous but an indication of some changes in the breast tissue that may be due to cancer. Due to methods of early detection (and our own dedication) cancer can be detected when very small before a lump can be felt. Unfortunately recurrance is always a possibility as is the development of another primary cancer. We all hope to remain "Survivors"in spite of those possibilities.
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