Also referred to as infiltrating breast cancer, invasive breast cancer basically means the cancer has originated in the mammary glands or breast ducts and grows and spreads to the breast tissue, and also the lymph nodes and farther. The cancer spreads via the lymphatic systems or blood to other body parts.

Signs

There are no apparent invasive breast cancer signs, especially when early into the disease. With growth, however, most women would notice a thickening or lump in their underarm or close to their breast; a variation in the nipple or breast skin’s appearance or feel (puckered, scaly, dimpled or inflamed); a lump or mass that’s not larger than the size of a pea; breast shape and size changes; nipple releasing clear or blood-stained fluid; and changes in nipple position or shape.

Types

There are different types of invasive breast cancers, such as:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC): The most common type of invasive breast cancer, the cancer cells in this type have their roots in the milk duct, and spear through the walls to attack the breast tissue. IDC cancer cells could either stay in the milk duct or spread to other parts of the body.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC): This type of cancer begins in the milk glands or lobules and starts spreading from there. Accounting for approximately 10 percent of all invasive breast cancer cases registered, a major ILC sign is a thick-skinned breast lump.

Inflammatory breast cancer, Paget disease of the breast or nipple, metaplastic breast cancer, mucinous carcinoma, tubular carcinoma, papillary carcinoma, micropapillary carcinoma, etc. are some of the rare invasive breast cancer types.

Risk Factors

There are certain things that could significantly contribute to one’s chances of getting diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

  • Age: Generally, older women (age 55 years or higher) are more vulnerable to the disease.
  • Genetics: Genetics and familial history also play a role.
  • Ethnicity: Compared to Asian, Hispanic or black women, white women are at a higher risk of developing the cancer.
  • Obesity: Women who have obesity issues and/or dense breasts have a higher chance of getting diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
  • Late pregnancy: Having kids after 35 years of age is a risk factor too.

Treatment

Treatment for invasive breast cancer would vary across patients – depending on the cancer type and spread, tumor location and size, cancer stage, age and overall health. Generally, the treatment entails one or more of the following: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

The treatment begins with a surgery to remove the tumor and other surrounding cancerous tissue. After surgery, the doctor would ascertain risk(s) of the breast cancer returning. Considering the patient’s age, medical history, and several other pertinent factors, an appropriate post-surgery treatment would be devised. This is where therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy come into play.