Affiliated Organizations
  HN Medical Partners   School of Nursing   HNH Fitness   Villa Marie Claire   Simulation Learning   Haiti Health Promise
Medical Partners Offices
Cardiovascular Specialists University Orthopaedic Pulmonary Specialists Obstetrics & Gynecology North Jersey Heart North Jersey Surgical Surgical Specialistss Primary Care Specialty Assoc. Urologic Specialties Women's Health Care

Your yearly mammogram can evoke a range of emotions, including significant anxiety about complex or confusing results. However, it's important to remember that not every finding on a mammogram or ultrasound is cancer.

Knowing more about common non-cancerous mammogram findings could help simplify your next screening.


Most women have some deposits of calcium in their breasts called calcifications. They appear as small, bright white dots on mammograms. Almost all calcifications are benign. However, there are some calcifications that signal cancer.

Some calcifications have features which can be seen in both benign and malignant stages. Additional imaging may be needed to help evaluate any inconclusive findings or results. Calcifications are most common after age 50 and may be related to past injury to the breast or a breast infection called mastitis.

Dense breast tissue

Breast density is a measurement of the relative amount of different types of breast tissue, and it can be impacted by weight gain, genetics, age, and menopause. There are two main types of tissue in the breast, fibrous glandular tissue and fatty tissue. Breast tissue can appear gray or white on a mammogram. The fatty tissue looks dark gray and the glandular tissue looks white.

Cancer tissue also appears white on a mammogram. Those with proportionate, more glandular tissue have dense breasts, which means it is harder to visualize on a mammogram. Ultrasound imaging can be helpful in women with dense breasts, since ultrasound looks at the breast tissue using a different technology than mammography.


Cysts are pockets of fluid inside the breasts. They are very common and can fluctuate over time, depending on a number of factors, including menstrual cycle. Cysts are best identified via ultrasound and are considered benign and rarely lead to cancer.

Sometimes cysts fill with debris, like hair or skin, which can cause infection or bleeding. In those cases, the cyst can become painful and will need to be evaluated to treat the symptoms and confirm that they are benign. Cysts can also create a misleading appearance on an ultrasound. In those instances, you may need to come back for an additional ultrasound or a procedure called a cyst aspiration or biopsy.


These solid, smooth, benign lumps are increasingly seen in postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy. You may find one during a self exam. The painless lump feels rubbery and moves around freely. Fibroadenomas vary in size and can grow anywhere in the breast tissue.

For the most part, fibroadenomas won’t need treatment and usually resolve on their own over time.


Sometimes, a patchy area of white tissue can stand out from the background on mammography. These prominent white areas are called an asymmetry. It can be difficult to tell if these asymmetries represent an island of glandular tissue or a subtle mass.

Additional imaging may be needed to help evaluate whether an asymmetry is of concern.

Remember, regular mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer and breast abnormalities. If you’re a woman aged 40 and up, you should schedule a mammogram every year.

To schedule a mammogram at the Holy Name Breast Center, click here or call 201-833-7100.