Invasive breast cancer occurs when cancer cells from inside the milk ducts or lobules break out into nearby breast tissue.
Cancer cells can travel from the breast to other parts of the body through the blood stream or the lymphatic system. They may travel early in the process when a tumor is small or later when a tumor is large.
The lymph nodes in the underarm area (the axillary lymph nodes) are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.
In advanced stages, breast cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body like the liver, lungs, bones and brain (a process called metastasis). There, the breast cancer cells may again begin to divide too quickly and make new tumors. This is called metastatic breast cancer.
Learn more about metastatic breast cancer.
The most common invasive breast cancers are:
Some less common invasive breast cancers include:
The chances for survival after invasive breast cancer depend on each person’s diagnosis and treatment. For example, people diagnosed with early breast cancer have a better prognosis than those diagnosed with more advanced breast cancer.
Learn more about factors that affect prognosis.
Treatment for invasive breast cancer usually involves some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or targeted therapy.
The order of therapies and the specific treatments depend on the cancer stage and the characteristics of the tumor (such as hormone receptor status).
Learn more about treatment.
Learn more about breast cancer stage.
Learn more about factors that affect breast cancer treatment.
Facts for Life: Types of Breast Cancer Tumor
How has having breast cancer changed your outlook?