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Microcalcifications are tiny specks of mineral deposits (calcium salts), that can be scattered throughout the mammary gland, or occur in clusters.They can also be found in the prostate in men and lead to prostatic hyperplasia. When found on a mammogram, microcalcifications are classified based on their size, shape and distribution, and a radiologist will then decide whether the specks are of concern - usually, this is not the case. Commonly, they simply indicate the presence of tiny benign cysts, but can signify the presence of early breast cancer; for this reason, it is important to attend regular screening sessions, as recommended by your health service.

They are caused by a number of reasons:

Ageing - the majority of diagnoses are made in women over 50

Benign causes

Genetic - involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes

Depending on what pattern the microcalcifications present determines the future course of the action, whether it be further investigatory techniques (as part of the triple assessment), or more regular screening.

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