Calcification of the chest

What is a calcification in the chest?

Calcium deposits can be found in the female breast, which are often referred to as calcifications, micro- or macro-calcifications. Lime is the chemical compound calcium carbonate, which, for example, can also precipitate in the blood vessels of the body. Calcifications can develop in the chest and are therefore visible in the X-ray examination, as they appear as radiopaque structures. Calcifications in the chest are natural and can occur due to a variety of causes.

Causes of calcification in the chest

There are several causes for the appearance of calcifications in the chest. Often these are benign breast diseases that are associated with changes in breast tissue. These include, for example, benign breast tumors such as fibroadenomas, cysts or cystic mastopathy.

The formation of the calcium is due to the metabolism within this tissue and is not pathological per se. In some cases, however, the calcium can also occur in the context of a malignant disease, in particular ductal breast cancer. In this case, too, the formation of the lime can be attributed to the tissue metabolism.


The diagnosis of calcification in the chest is made through imaging tests. Lime can be represented particularly well by X-rays because it is radio-opaque. This means that the lime can be seen as a whitish structure in the X-ray image. The calcification is usually discovered during the preventive mammography. In the mammography, the radiologist can use the structure, shape and distribution of the calcium to assess whether the cause is benign or malignant.

Benign microcalcifications are mostly distributed rather diffusely in the breast tissue and are punctiform to coarse lumps. The diffusely distributed calcium particles are similar and the remaining breast tissue shows no evidence of a malignant development.
Malignant micro-lime, on the other hand, is characterized by a grouped distribution. The lime particles are called polymorphic because they are not similar, but are completely different.
In the case of a benign finding, a six-monthly to annual check of the calcium in the mammography is sufficient. A suspicious finding, on the other hand, is further clarified by a biopsy.

Read more on the subject at: Breast biopsy

How often are calcifications in the breast cancerous?

It is difficult to estimate how often calcifications in the chest are malignant. Most often, calcifications are benign. The diagnosis of breast cancer is only made in the rarest of cases. However, breast cancer is still the most common cancer in women, with the result that, statistically, around one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. However, not all breast cancer is accompanied by calcifications in the breast, making it difficult to tell how often calcifications are actually malignant.

Concomitant symptoms

Typically, calcifications in the chest do not cause symptoms or discomfort. However, they can occur as part of conditions that cause symptoms. This can be the case with both benign and malignant diseases.
Calcifications that occur in the context of tumors can be noticed by pain or a pulling in the chest. It is not the calcifications that cause the pain, but the tumor that presses on the surrounding tissue. A malignant tumor can also be accompanied by what are known as B symptoms, especially at an advanced stage. This leads to fever, night sweats and unwanted weight loss. Furthermore, various accompanying symptoms are possible as part of a metastasis to other organs. However, these symptoms are also not triggered by the calcifications themselves.

Chest pain from the lime

Calcifications in the chest usually do not cause symptoms. They are visible in the mammography and are diagnosed there. In most cases, the diagnosis is made during breast cancer screening. However, lime in the chest does not cause pain or similar discomfort that would require a visit to the doctor.

However, it is possible that the calcifications appear in tumorous tissue. This tissue can be painful, especially if it is very large and is pressing on the rest of the breast tissue. The pain is not caused directly by the calcium, but by the tumor itself, regardless of whether it is benign or malignant.

Therapy for calcification in the chest

Treatment for calcification in the chest depends on the underlying condition. Calcifications as such do not need to be treated, but they are an expression of another disease. This can be both benign and malicious.

A benign disease does not have to be treated and is only checked every six months or annually, as a transition to a malignant disease is rarely possible. Examples of this are cysts or fibromas.
A suspicious microcalcification is first biopsied and then the tissue is examined under the microscope. If a malignant tumor disease is found there, a stage-appropriate treatment of the breast cancer is started immediately. Depending on the stage of the tumor, this therapy can include surgery, radiation, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

When do you have to remove calcifications from the breast?

Malignant microcalcifications that occur in breast cancer are treated. The treatment includes operations as well as radiation, chemotherapy and hormone therapies. The aim of treatment is to kill the tumor and, if possible, all tumor cells, in order to prevent metastasis.
In the case of breast cancer that has not yet metastasized, surgical removal with subsequent irradiation of the breast is sufficient.If metastases have already formed, a more aggressive approach using chemotherapy and hormone therapy is required.

Prognosis of calcifications of the breast

Calcifications in the chest can be both benign and malignant in nature.
Benign calcifications do not require any treatment and have a very good prognosis, as they can occur as part of various benign breast changes. These include, for example, fibroadenomas and cysts. A transition to a malignant disease is extremely rare, so that a regular check-up about once a year is usually sufficient.

Suspicious calcifications that occur in the context of malignant diseases, however, appear different. Your prognosis is highly variable. In a very early tumor stage, the prognosis is good and a curative, i.e. healing, therapeutic approach is possible. A far advanced stage of the tumor with spread of the tumor to other organs is associated with a poorer prognosis.