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    Invasive Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Treatments, Prognosis

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    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
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