Breast calcifications are small deposits of calcium in the breast. There are two types: macrocalcifications and microcalcifications.
In most cases, breast calcifications are harmless. They are normally seen during a mammogram (breast x-ray).
Macrocalcifications are found in about half of all women over the age of 50. They are the natural result of breast aging. They can be caused by calcium deposits in milk ducts, previous lesions, or by inflammation. They are not linked to cancer and do not need treatment of any kind.
Microcalcifications are not usually due to cancer. But they can sometimes be a sign of precancerous changes or early breast cancer if a group of microcalcifications is found in the same area. You could need more tests if these are found.
These tests could include another, close-up mammogram and a breast biopsy. A breast biopsy is a kind of test that checks to see if there are any cancer cells present.
LOBULAR CARCINOMA IN SITU
Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) is not cancer. It means there are changes in the cells lining the lobes that produce milk in the breast. Although women with LCIS are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future, most do not.
LCIS does not cause any symptoms and cannot be seen on a mammogram (breast x-ray). This means that LCIS is usually only found during tests and treatments for other diseases of the breast.
You don't need treatment if you have LCIS. However, monitoring is very important. Doctors customarily recommend that women with LCIS have:
- breast exams every 6-12 months
- mammograms every 1-2 years
CERVICAL INTRAEPITHELIAL NEOPLASIA
Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) occurs when there are changes on the surface of the squamous cells in the cervix. It is not a type of cancer. However, having CIN increases women's chances of developing cervical cancer, which is why it is classified as a precancerous condition.
Not all of the causes are known, although smoking may lead to increased risk. It is thought that the primary cause is infection by some types of HPV.
CIN does not always require treatment. However, if treatment is necessary, it is often successful.
Both HPV and CIN have no symptoms, which is why it is really important to have regular cervical screening performed in order to find possible changes to cells at an early phase.
MONOCLONAL GAMMOPATHY OF UNKNOWN SIGNIFICANCE
Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance, or MGUS, is a non-cancerous (benign) condition in which large quantities of one type of antibody are produced. This antibody is called a paraprotein (or M-protein).
MGUS usually causes no symptoms. It is normally diagnosed in the blood and urine. However, you may have other tests done to rule out more serious illnesses. These tests may include x-rays, scans, and sometimes a bone marrow test.
Most people with MGUS remain well and no treatment is necessary. However, a small number of people may end up developing cancers such as myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells) and lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). This means that everyone with MGUS should have regular check-ups.
VAGINAL INTRAEPITHELIAL NEOPLASIA
Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN) is a condition in which there are changes to the skin of the vagina. It is not cancer. For some women, it is temporary and disappears naturally. Sometimes, the changes can be more severe and there is a possibility that cancer will develop many years later.
It is not completely clear what causes VAIN. It may be associated with the human papilloma virus (HPV) alongside other factors that weaken the body's immune system.
It does not cause any symptoms, although it may be picked up during a pap smear. To confirm diagnosis, your GP will examine the surface of your vagina with a colposcope. This is a test that uses a specially adapted microscope to look closely at the vagina.
Whether or not you will be treated will depend on how severe the VAIN is. The types of treatment include local ablation, surgery, radiotherapy, and a chemotherapy cream.
You may experience some physical changes after some kinds of treatment. These normally last just a short while. However, some treatments may affect your sex life. You can talk to your gynecologist, who can give you advice on managing the potential side effects and provide you with more support and information.
VAGINAL INTRAEPITHELIAL NEOPLASIA
Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) refers to the changes that can happen to the skin that covers the vulva. The vulva is the outer area of the female genitals.
This neoplasia is not cancer, and in some women it goes away without treatment. However, it can turn into cancer after many years, which is why it is known as a precancerous condition.
The symptoms may include itchiness, soreness, tingling, or a burning sensation in the vulva; changes to the appearance of the skin around the vulva; and pain during sexual intercourse. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. Not everyone has symptoms before they are diagnosed.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the affected skin or perform a procedure called ablation to destroy it. Drug treatments are also being developed. After treatment, you will see your doctor regularly to check that the condition hasn't come back.
VULVAL LICHEN SCLEROSUS
Vulval lichen sclerosus (LS) and lichen planus (LP) are conditions that affect the skin of the vulva. The vulva is the outer area of the female genitals.
In a small number of women, LS or LP can develop into a kind of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer. This can take many years.
The symptoms can include itchiness of the skin, soreness around the vulva, or changes in color. Having sex and urinating may be uncomfortable. Not everyone has symptoms, but if you notice any of these symptoms, go see your GP. They will examine you, and more tests may be necessary.
These conditions can be treated, though not cured completely. Most women do not require treatment; though if your condition is severe, you will have to visit your doctor regularly. There are treatments available that help control the symptoms in case the discomfort gets to be too much.
It isn't infectious and cannot be transmitted through sex.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the cells of the esophagus grow in an abnormal way. The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Barrett's esophagus is not cancer, though it can develop into cancer in a small number of people.
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease are the two main causes of Barrett's esophagus. Acid reflux is when stomach acid comes up into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is when the acid irritates and inflames the esophagus. About 1 out of 10 people with acid reflux will develop Barrett's esophagus.
The most common symptom is ongoing heartburn and indigestion.
To diagnose Barrett's esophagus, the esophagus is examined using an endoscope. A cell sample (biopsy) may also be taken for study in the laboratory.
There are a number of options for treating Barrett's esophagus; these are aimed at reducing acid reflux and controlling symptoms. Making changes in your lifestyle and taking certain medication may reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. Other forms of treatment are aimed at eliminating or strengthening the affected area.