Know Your Risk

Fight Cancer

Everyone knows someone who has battled breast cancer. But how do you know it won't be you?

For the typical female, there is a 12 percent risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, said Dr. Jennifer Steiman, a UW breast surgical oncologist and member of SwedishAmerican's Cancer Center team.

"For the development of breast cancer, there are many risk factors that you can control and many which you cannot," Steiman said.

Risk factors you can control: 

  • Increased body weight after menopause 
  • Decreased physical activity 
  • Increased alcohol use 
  • Exposure to hormones 
  • Over age 30 at your first child's birth

Risk factors you can't control: 

  • Early menstruation 
  • Personal or family cancer history 
  • Late menopause after age 55 
  • Increased breast density 
  • Genetic mutations 
  • Therapeutic radiation exposure as an adolescent

To calculate your risk based on the above factors, visit the online calculator at www.cancer.gov. Assessing your risk will help you and your doctor set forth a plan for mammography screenings that can help find cancer early – and increase your chances of beating it.


Jennifer Steiman, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at UW Health.