Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

Invasive Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Treatments, Prognosis

Font Size

What increases the risk of invasive breast cancer?

There’s no way to know if you’ll develop an invasive form of breast cancer, but there are things that increase your chances, many of which you can’t change.

Older women are at higher risk. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of 8 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer are under age 45. And 2 out of every 3 women with invasive breast cancer are age 55 or older when they’re first diagnosed.

Your genetics and family history of breast cancer play roles. It’s more common among white women than black, Asian, or Hispanic women.

Also, you’re at higher risk if you’re obese, your breasts are dense, you didn’t have children, or you became pregnant after the age of 35.

What is tumor grading?

After surgery to remove the tumor, a doctor will check it and assign a grade to it. The grade depends on how closely the cancer cells resemble normal cells when viewed under a microscope. Low-grade cancer cells are similar to normal breast cells. Higher grade breast cancer cells look more different. They show the cancer is more aggressive.

The doctor will also test for estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. This test will show whether the female hormones -- estrogen and progesterone -- influence the cancer cells. If the test is positive, it means hormones cause the cancer cells to grow. In that case, therapies to suppress or block hormones may help treat the cancer.

The cancer will also be tested for a gene called HER2. If it’s found, additional drugs like trastuzumab (Herceptin) can be used.

Other tests will see if the cancer has spread from the breast to other areas of the body.

How is invasive breast cancer treated?

Different things will determine the type of breast cancer treatment your doctor recommends, including:

  • Size of the tumor
  • Location of the tumor
  • Results of lab tests done on the cancer cells
  • Stage of the cancer
  • Your age and general health
  • If you’ve been through menopause
  • Your own feelings about the treatment options
  • Family history
  • Results of tests for a gene mutation that would increase the risk of breast cancer
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow