The good news is that the vast majority of calcifications are quite clearly harmless—nothing for you to worry about. Ever. For that reason, their presence may never have been mentioned to you or included in your mammogram report. “When I talk to women about their calcifications, by and large they haven’t heard of them,” Dr. Baker says.
These harmless kinds of calcifications are called “benign.” The term was established by the American College of Radiology, which came up with a standardized way of describing mammogram findings and results—and what to do next. This system is called the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-R ADS).
The next BI-R ADS category is “probably benign.” Again, not much to worry about. “The calcifications in this category have less than two percent chance of being precancerous cells or cancer,” Dr. Baker says. “And the small number that do turn out to be malignant are very early stage cancer.”
At Duke, calcifications deemed “probably benign” are reviewed on a diagnostic mammogram in six months to see whether there has been any change. The calcifications are followed carefully over two years, and if they remain stable, you can return to routine screening mammograms without ever having a biopsy.