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Breast Cancer

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Young woman standing in front of mammogram machine and female doctor standing behind her

HSHS St. Vincent Hospital Cancer Centers, along with our Prevea Health partners, is dedicated to saving lives by ensuring you know your risk factors and symptoms so that you can get timely diagnosis and treatment. Our team of Cancer Care Specialists are here to help you every step of your journey.

Risk Factors

There are many different risk factors for cancer. Having a risk factor does not mean you’ll get cancer. Not having a risk factor doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the disease. Some of the risk factors known to be associated with breast cancer include:

  • Age at childbirth – women who had no children or had their first child after age 30 have a slightly increased risk.
  • Aging – Risk increases as you age; however, 1 out of every 8 breast cancers are in women under age 45.
  • Alcohol – the use of alcohol is clearly linked to the risk of developing breast cancer and the risk increases with the amount consumed.
  • Benign breast disease – some types of benign breast conditions seem to increase a women’s risk. Talk with your doctor about your risk.
  • Dense breast tissue – women with denser breast tissue have a higher risk of disease.
  • Gender – women are far more likely than men to get breast cancer. However, men CAN develop breast cancer.
  • Genetics – only 5%-10% of breast cancers are hereditary or caused directly from gene defects that are inherited.
  • Hormone therapy after menopause – combined hormone therapy (estrogen and progesterone) increases risk.
  • Menstrual periods – women who began menstruating before age 12 have a slightly increased risk.
  • Overweight or obesity – increases the risk, especially after menopause.
  • Personal history of breast cancer – women with breast cancer in one breast have an increased risk of developing a new breast cancer in the other breast or another part of the same breast.
  • Race/ethnicity – white women are slightly higher risk than African-American women. However, African-American women are more likely to die from the disease due to more aggressive tumors.

More About Breast Cancer

The HSHS Wisconsin Clinical Research Institute is a top national research center, with more than 25 years of experience in conducting clinical trials. More than 700 different clinical trials have been provided to more than 2,500 patients. The ability to conduct research studies opens up new avenues of hope, as they provide our patients with more treatment options.

Research compares the best-known treatment with new treatments, which have a possibility of improving current outcomes. Standard treatments used today are a result of past clinical trials.

In cancer research, clinical trials are designed to answer questions about new ways to:
  • Treat cancer
  • Find and diagnose cancer
  • Prevent cancer
  • Manage symptoms of cancer and/or its treatment
  • Whether or not to take part in a clinical trial is always the patient’s decision. All treatment options should be considered.

One important benefit of participating in a clinical trial is the possibility of being part of a breakthrough discovery in the treatment of cancer. Clinical trials help people who may get cancer in the future. But whether or not to take part in a clinical trial is always the patient's decision. All treatment options should be considered.

Through the HSHS Wisconsin Clinical Research Institute, patients of the St. Vincent Cancer Collaborative have access to 130-140 clinical trials at any given time. Many of these trials are also available at our affiliated locations in the Regional Cancer Collaborative.

To find out more about clinical trials, call the HSHS Wisconsin Clinical Research Institute at 920-433-8889.
The HSHS St. Vincent Hospital Cancer Centers and our Regional Breast Center of Excellence uses state-of-the-art detection, diagnosis and treatment methods including:
  • Full-field digital mammography
  • Ultrasound; ultrasound guided biopsy
  • MRI; MRI guided biopsy
  • PET/CT
  • Stereotactic biopsy
  • Sentinal lymph node biopsy
  • An outstanding team of specialists including Wisconsin’s first breast surgeon certified in Stereotactic Breast Procedures by the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) and the region’s only fellowship trained breast surgeon.
We offer screening and diagnostic imaging through digital mammography and most patients receive their results before they leave their appointment. Click here to learn more about screening mammograms, diagnostic mammograms, preparing for a mammogram and other related services.
Current screening guidelines recommended by the American Cancer Society:
  • Breast self exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, at least every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.
  • Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

Because every breast cancer patient is unique, the four standard treatments used in breast cancer care are often combined to best suit the individual’s needs. This treatment plan depends on the stage of the cancer (the size and whether or not the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other locations in the body), the type and makeup of the cancerous tumor, the age and general health of patient and if it is a first-time diagnosis or recurring cancer.

See treatments