Invasive cancer is a term doctors use to describe cancer that has grown past the original tissue or cells where it developed, and spread to otherwise healthy surrounding tissue

According to the National Cancer Institute, invasive cancer is also called infiltrating cancer. When cancer cells reach this point, they can give off a substance that breaks down cellular membranes, allowing the cancer to spread past its point of origin. Research says infiltration is the first step in the process of metastasis.

If cancer metastasizes, the mortality rate from the cancer generally increases.

Keep reading to learn more about invasive cancer, the general outlook, and insight into some of the various forms of invasive cancer.

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The National Cancer Institute says invasive cancer occurs when cancer cells have spread beyond the tissue and cells where the cancer first developed, and have spread to otherwise healthy surrounding tissue.

Research states that metastatic cancer occurs as a progression of invasive cancer.

Once the cancer has started to invade surrounding tissues, its ability to pass through membranes allows the cancer cells to spread via the lymphatic circulatory system. The lymphatic circulatory system is part of the circulatory system. It maintains healthy fluid levels throughout the body by collecting excess fluids and filters the blood through lymph nodes.

Ultimately, after cancer cells spread, they will attach somewhere other than the original tumor area and form a secondary tumor.

Here are some types of cancer that may become invasive:

Invasive bladder cancer has spread from the lining of the bladder, where it typically starts, to the muscles of the bladder.


Invasive bladder cancer is the third most common cancer in males. Each year, doctors diagnose about 83,000 new cases.

About 25% of all bladder cancers are invasive and have moved into the surrounding muscle of the bladder.


A person may experience no symptoms at all. According to the American Urological Association, some symptoms include:

  • back pain
  • blood in the urine (hematuria). This is the most common symptom that a person should not ignore
  • pain during urination
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • a frequent need to urinate


Treatment may involve one or more options. The American Urological Association states that common treatments include:

  • chemotherapy
  • radiation
  • full or partial bladder removal
  • a combination of the three approaches


Bladder cancer outlook will vary based on the stage and person’s overall health following diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year average survival rates for bladder cancer are:

  • Localized: 69%
  • Regional: 37%
  • Distant: 6%

The Skin Cancer Foundation states that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States of America. Around 1 out of every 5 Americans will develop a form of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.


According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, doctors diagnose about 207,000 cases of melanoma each year. Of these, around 106,000 will be non-invasive and only affect the top layer of skin.


In the early stages, skin cancer does not typically present with noticeable symptoms. However, a person can visually see cancerous spots on their skin. The American Cancer Society suggests a person check for lesions that:

  • have an irregular border
  • are asymmetrical in color or shape
  • change over time
  • are generally smaller than other spots on the skin


Skin cancer treatment typically involves the removal of the cancer. The exact treatments used will vary based on the type of skin cancer a person has, as well as what stage the cancer is at when discovered. According to the National Cancer Institute, some of the most common treatment options include:

  • radiation therapy
  • surgery
  • chemical peel
  • chemotherapy
  • photodynamic therapy
  • targeted therapy
  • immunotherapy
  • other drug therapy


The earlier skin cancer is caught, the better the overall outcome will likely be. The exact outlook will vary for people based on the exact type of skin cancer a person has. For example, according to the American Cancer Society, the average 5-year survival for invasive melanoma that has regional spread is 66%, while the survival rate for distant spread, or metastasized melanoma, is 27%.

Testicular cancer affects a part of the male reproductive system. According to the American Cancer Association, there are several types of testicular cancer distinguished by where in the testicle it first formed. Over 90% of all cases start in the germ cells of the testicles, which are the cells that make sperm.

The two main types are seminomas, which are generally slower growing and spreading, and non-seminomas, which have four main subtypes and tend to spread and grow faster than seminomas.

Invasive testicular cancer accounts for less than 5% of all cases. When it occurs, the cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes. It may also have spread to distant organs, such as the liver.


According to the American Cancer Association, testicular cancer is not common and affects about 1 out of 250 people. The association predicts that there will be about 9,400 new cases diagnosed in 2021 and about 440 deaths.

Less than 5% of all testicular cancer cases are invasive.


Symptoms are often minimal for invasive testicular cancer. A person most likely will notice a painless lump on their teste.

Johns Hopkins Medicine states that a person may feel pain if the cancer is rapidly growing. Other symptoms can include:

  • lower back pain
  • abdominal mass
  • chest pain or shortness of breath if the cancer has spread to the lungs
  • gastrointestinal issues if the cancer has spread to the GI tract


Treatment for testicular cancer will vary based on the stage as well as the person. According to the American Cancer Society, common treatments include:

  • radiation
  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant

A person should talk to their doctor about the best treatment for them.


Testicular cancer has a relatively high survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rates are:

  • Localized – 99% (non-invasive)
  • Regional – 96%
  • Distant -73%

Breast cancers typically start in either the milk ducts or the lobules that produce milk. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the cancer spreads into other areas of the breast or surrounding tissue.


According to, in 2021, doctors will diagnose about 281,550 new invasive breast cancer cases. In addition, about 1 out of 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of breast cancer can include:

  • pain around the nipple
  • a new lump in the breast or underarm
  • swelling of the breasts
  • pain anywhere on the breast
  • dimpling or irritation of the skin on the breast
  • red, flaky skin around the nipples or other areas of the breast
  • any change in the shape or size of the breast
  • nipple discharge other than breast milk


The exact treatment a person will undergo for breast cancer will vary based on the type and severity of the breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, common treatment options include:

  • surgery
  • radiation
  • hormone therapy
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted drug therapy
  • immunotherapy

A person should talk to their doctor about the best treatment options based on the exact type of cancer they have.


Breast cancer survival rates can vary based on the person, the stage the cancer was at diagnosis, and the subtype of cancer they have. According to the American Cancer Society, average 5-year survival rates are:

  • Localized: 99%
  • Regional: 86%
  • Distant: 28%

A person not diagnosed with cancer should see a doctor regularly for routine health checks. This can include cancer screenings to check for early signs of potential cancer.

A person diagnosed with non-invasive cancer should see a doctor more frequently for checks. A doctor can check to see if the cancer has progressed or come back.

A person in treatment for invasive cancer should work with a doctor to determine how often they need medical appointments. They should do their best to keep all appointments and follow treatments as prescribed.

A person should contact a doctor if they notice any side effects from treatment. A doctor may be able to help them cope with the side effects.

Invasive cancer occurs when a cancer has spread past the original tissue in which it developed.

Initially, invasive cancer invades local healthy tissue and lymph nodes. If left untreated or if treatments do not work, the cancer can metastasize and spread to other areas of the body.

People’s treatment, symptoms, quality of life, and outlook will vary greatly based on several factors, including the type of cancer they have as well as their age, the stage of the cancer, and their overall health.