Skip to content

Breast Cancer Health Center

Select An Article

Invasive Breast Cancer: Symptoms, Treatments, Prognosis

Font Size

Women in the U.S. have a 1 in 8 chance of developing an invasive form of breast cancer during their lifetime. When breast cancer is invasive, it starts in the breast ducts or glands but grows into breast tissue. It can then spread into the nearby lymph nodes and beyond.

There are effective treatments. Your own treatment will depend on what type you have and how much and where your cancer has spread. You’ll work together with your doctor to come up with a plan that's best for you.

Recommended Related to Breast Cancer

Women’s Cancer Q&A: Advances in Care

How far have we come in women’s cancer? Keeping up with the latest treatment trends and studies about cancer of the breast, ovary, uterus, and cervix can be daunting. New studies come out seemingly every week with hot-off-the-press -- and often contradictory -- results. Mammograms? They’re either the key to prevention or misleading at best. And what’s the final word on hormone replacement therapy? Does it prevent or cause cancer? Experts have even recently challenged the value of sticking to a low-fat...

Read the Women’s Cancer Q&A: Advances in Care article > >

Types of Invasive Breast Cancer

Two types account for about 95% of invasive breast cancer.

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC). This is the most common type, making up about 80%. With IDC, cancer cells start in a milk duct, break through the walls, and invade breast tissue. It can remain localized, which means it stays near the site where the tumor started. Or cancer cells may spread anywhere in the body.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC). This type accounts for about 10% of invasive breast cancers. ILC starts in the lobules or milk glands and then spreads. With ILC, most women feel a thickening instead of a lump in their breast.

Some women may have a combination of both.

What are the signs of invasive breast cancer?

Breast cancer may have no signs or symptoms, especially during the early stages. As the cancer grows, you may notice one or more of the following:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that continues after your monthly menstrual cycle
  • A mass or lump, which may feel as small as a pea
  • A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast
  • A blood-stained or clear fluid from the nipple
  • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple -- dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed
  • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
  • A change in shape or position of the nipple
  • An area that is distinctly different from any other area on either breast
  • A marble-like hardened area under the skin

You may notice changes when you do a monthly breast self-exam. By doing a regular self-check of your breast, you can become familiar with the normal changes in your breasts.

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