Microcalcifications in breast cancer: Lessons from physiological mineralization.

2019-11-22T16:19:30Z (GMT) by Rachel F. Cox Maria P. Morgan
Mammographic mammary microcalcifications are routinely used for the early detection of breast cancer, however the mechanisms by which they form remain unclear. Two species of mammary microcalcifications have been identified; calcium oxalate and hydroxyapatite. Calcium oxalate is mostly associated with benign lesions of the breast, whereas hydroxyapatite is associated with both benign and malignant tumors. The way in which hydroxyapatite forms within mammary tissue remains largely unexplored, however lessons can be learned from the process of physiological mineralization. Normal physiological mineralization by osteoblasts results in hydroxyapatite deposition in bone. This review brings together existing knowledge from the field of physiological mineralization and juxtaposes it with our current understanding of the genesis of mammary microcalcifications. As an increasing number of breast cancers are being detected in their non-palpable stage through mammographic microcalcifications, it is important that future studies investigate the underlying mechanisms of their formation in order to fully understand the significance of this unique early marker of breast cancer.