Breast Calcifications

 

One of the common findings in a mammogram that is “suspicious” is called calcifications.  Let’s take a look at them and why they happen from a western and an eastern point of view.  Then we will talk about thoughts on how one might get rid of them!

Calcifications can be caused by two things. 

MACROCALCIFICATIONS

When a woman with fibrocystic breast tissue goes thru peri-menopause into menopause, the breast becomes less dense, less fibrous.  As the breast changes, small calcifications can be left behind.  In this case, there will be multiple spots of calcifications all over the breast tissue.  These calcifications are not considered to be a problem, just normal breast changes.

MICROCALCIFICATIONS

When cancer begins to develop in the breast, cells begin to divide more rapidly.  This condition, referred to medically as hyperplasia (too many cells) can be the cause of microcalcifications.  (micro = less that 1mm) These cells then produce “debris”.  Often a small grouping of calcifications is seen in a particular spot.  This is sometimes (20 – 30%) a precursor to breast cancer development. 

When women get a diagnosis of  breast calcifications, it is usually one of three grades.  (not a problem, might be a problem or looks like a problem)  The standard procedure is to either wait four to six months (might be a problem) and take another mammogram or do an immediate biopsy (looks like a problem).  If there are more micro calcifications seen several months later, the suspicious area is then tested in a biopsy to see if there are cancer cells present.

For many women, being told they have a suspicious mammogram and then asked to wait for a few months to see if it is cancer – is a stressful event.  (Is that too understated?!?  We certainly don’t mean to minimize this...)

 From a western medical perspective, there is no treatment when we think that cancer may be beginning to develop.  We can wait until cancer forms something that can be seen in screening or sometimes there are hormone blockers, like tamoxifin will be offered.  These options may or may not be helpful, but they are not without side effects.

Benign breast calcifications are thought to be caused by residue from a breast infection, old injury, cosmetic products like deodorant, past radiation, hormonal changes or just simple calcium deposits in a duct or artery.

In Chinese medicine, calcifications are seen as a stagnant phlegm condition.  This may be caused by excessive sugar, fat or dairy product consumption; here are some pages that give you more information of the Chinese idea of breast calcifications. 

Although these pages offer some remedies for breast lumps, Chinese medicine is too complicated to self diagnose, please go to a practitioner that specializes in women’s health.  Our intention is to let you know that there are things you can do besides wait for cancer to develop.

http://www.tcmpage.com/hpbreastlump.html

http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/2426/AObreast.html

There is a great book dealing with these issues as well. The Breast Connection by Honora L. Wolfe.  This is Chinese medicine information about the breast but it is designed for lay people.  If you want to understand Chinese medicine and the breast, this book is a great place to start!

The western nutritional approach would include ensuring that the body is well hydrated, that you are taking enough essential fatty acids and that you have enough microminerals in your diet.  All of this obviously in addition to a healthy diet, based on whole foods with minimal sugar, dairy and unhealthy fats.

Another option is breast thermography.    If there are rapidly dividing cells in the suspected area, you should see a “hotter” area on the thermogram.

 

One of our teachers suggested using a castor pack on the area.  Castor packs need to be used regularly to be effective.  Here is a simple instruction on how to use a castor pack.  

Questions?  Successes?!? Please let us know!

Posted October 19, 2007



 



 

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