Know your risk factors

Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, Wis.  – Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.; and by the end of this year, more than 43,000 women in the United States are expected to die from the disease. The World Health Organization says breast cancer is now the most common cancer globally. 

During October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals remind community members that early detection through screening mammograms will help save lives. 

Corrie Wajek, manger of HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals radiology departments says finding a tumor when the cancer is small gives women more treatment options. “Often when a woman feels a lump in her breast tissue a tumor has already formed and enlarged. A screening mammogram can detect even the smallest abnormality and if it’s cancerous, treatment can begin before the tumor has time to grow or spread.”

All women should talk with their health care provider about the appropriate timing for screening mammograms, especially women who are age 40 or at high-risk. A mammogram schedule will be based upon an individual’s health. At age 40, any women may wish to begin regular screening mammograms. By age 45, women should have a screening mammogram and continue to have one at least every other year.

There are many risk factors that can contribute to the cause of breast cancer:

  1. Increasing age: The risk of breast cancer increases with age. 
  2. Inherited breast cancer: Doctors estimate 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through generations of a family. 
  3. Dense breasts: Women who have a high percentage of breast tissue that appears dense on a mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer than women of similar age who have little or no dense breast tissue.
  4. Personal history of breast cancer: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer. 
  5. Alcohol: Studies indicate the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk of breast cancer. 
  6. No pregnancy: Women who have never been pregnant have a greater risk of breast cancer.
  7. Reproductive and menstrual history: Women who had their first menstrual period before age 12 or who went through menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. 
  8. Body weight: The chance of getting breast cancer is higher in women who are overweight or obese.
  9. Physical activity level: Women who are physically inactive throughout life may have an increased risk of breast cancer. 
  10. Race: In the U.S., breast cancer is diagnosed more often in white women than in African American/Black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native women. 

You can find more information about mammography by visiting HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital or HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital. To schedule a screening mammogram at either location, please call (715) 717-1461.


About HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1889, it has been meeting patient needs in western Wisconsin with the latest medical innovations and technology, together with a Franciscan whole-person healing tradition.

About HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the Founding Institute, and it is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System. Since 1885, it has served the people of the Chippewa Falls area with health care that is high tech and high touch. Known locally for the quality of the care it provides patients, the hospital has been recognized nationally for its outstanding patient satisfaction levels. 

About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality, Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our physician practices and 15 local hospitals in two states - Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan, and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries,  and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit

Media Contact

Karen Kraus

Communications Department
HSHS Wisconsin
Office: (715) 717-4591
Cell: (715) 717-4747

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