Oncologists classify cancer as either invasive or noninvasive. Noninvasive cancer stays in the original tissue and does not spread around the body. Different types of cancer, such as breast, skin, and testicular cancers, can be noninvasive.

Usually, doctors find noninvasive cancer easier to treat than the invasive type of the condition.

In this article, we discuss noninvasive cancer, treatment options, and outlook. We also explain when a person should contact a healthcare professional.

A female clinician looks at a mammogram for noninvasive cancer.Share on Pinterest
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Noninvasive cancer does not spread outside of the tissue in which it initially formed. Some doctors may refer to it as carcinoma in situ or precancer.

Invasive cancer, on the other hand, is one that has spread beyond the originally affected tissue. For breast cancer, this typically means cancer has spread from the milk ducts or lobules to surrounding breast tissue.

Generally, noninvasive cancers are easier to treat. In some cases, a doctor may even recommend watching and waiting before they suggest any treatment.

A person with noninvasive cancer will likely need lifelong monitoring to ensure the condition does not come back.

Some types of noninvasive cancer, including bladder and skin cancers, are likely to either return or appear in different areas of the body.

Noninvasive cancer does not spread from the tissue in which it develops. However, the condition may come back or turn into an invasive form of cancer.

Fight Bladder Cancer, a British nonprofit dedicated to ending bladder cancer, states that noninvasive bladder cancer is 70% of all cases and has the highest remittance rate of all cancer types. A person will need lifelong monitoring to check whether the cancer has returned.

In situ, or noninvasive, breast cancer is any breast cancer that has remained in either the milk ducts or lobules where it started. The cancer has not yet spread to other surrounding breast tissue.

Breast cancer typically develops in the lobules, or milk-producing glands, or in the milk ducts. When it has not spread past either of these locations, doctors consider it noninvasive.


Noninvasive breast cancer accounts for about 20–25% of all newly diagnosed breast cancer cases in the United States.

Researchers also note that the prevalence rate has increased significantly with the advent and widespread use of modern mammography machines.


Unlike invasive forms, noninvasive breast cancer does not typically produce noticeable symptoms.

However, studies show that mammograms can detect cancer in this stage so that doctors can treat it before it becomes invasive.


Treatment for noninvasive breast cancer is aggressive and can include surgery, radiation, and hormone therapy. In most cases, the goal is to eradicate the cancer before it has a chance to become invasive.


The survival rate is about 98–99% for 8–10 years for people with a diagnosis of noninvasive breast cancer. If doctors do not catch the cancer early enough or treat it effectively, it can become invasive.

An estimated 43,600 people will die from invasive breast cancer in 2021.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., where about 1 in 5 people will develop a form of skin cancer by the age of 70.


In 2021 in the U.S., over 207,000 people will receive a diagnosis of melanoma, of which 106,000 cases will be noninvasive and only affect the top skin layer.


Skin cancer typically presents as a change in the skin. For this reason, a person should check their skin regularly for changes in appearance or feel or any other unusual features.

A person should contact a doctor if they are unsure about whether or not the changes are due to cancer.


If doctors find noninvasive skin cancer, they usually remove the growth during an outpatient procedure.

There are several methods to remove the growth. The method the doctor chooses will depend on how big the growth is.


The 5-year survival rate for melanoma, when doctors catch it in an early, noninvasive stage, is 99%. In other words, when a person identifies skin cancer before it spreads, they have a high likelihood of treating it successfully.

However, they will need to continually monitor their skin to check for new signs of the cancer returning.

Doctors may refer to noninvasive bladder cancer as non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer. This name implies that cancer has not spread from the tissue lining the bladder to its muscles.


According to the Urology Care Foundation, bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer type doctors diagnose in the U.S. It is also three times more likely to develop in males than in females.

About 70–75% of all bladder cancer cases are non-muscle-invasive.


A person may not experience any symptoms from bladder cancer. However, if they do, the most common sign is blood in the urine, known as hematuria.

If a person notices this symptom, they should contact a doctor for a diagnosis as soon as possible.


A person needs to work with a urologist to determine what treatment options will be most suitable for them.

According to the American Urological Association, treatments will vary depending on the stage of the cancer and a person’s overall health.

Treatment options include:

  • Intravesical therapy: Doctors place medication directly in the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy transurethral resection of the bladder tumor: During this procedure, a surgeon removes the tumor.
  • Surgery: A surgeon removes all or part of the bladder.


The 5-year survival rate for noninvasive bladder cancer is about 96%.

A doctor may recommend waiting to see whether the bladder cancer spreads before they suggest any treatment.

Testicular cancer starts in and affects the testicles. Doctors call noninvasive forms of this condition carcinoma in situ (CIS) or intratubular germ cell neoplasia.


Doctors do not often find or diagnose CIS before it becomes an invasive form of testicular cancer. They may find it when performing a biopsy on the testicle for other reasons, such as fertility issues.


Typically, there are no symptoms present for noninvasive testicular cancer. They rarely form a lump.

Instead, doctors could miss it at this stage and only be able to diagnose it if they perform a biopsy to test for other conditions.


Doctors do not fully agree on the best course of treatment for noninvasive testicular cancer. The disagreement results from the fact that the cancer may not become invasive.

Doctors in the U.S. may take a “watch and wait” approach to see whether the cancer becomes invasive before treating it.


Testicular cancer affects about 8,000–10,000 males each year. It has a roughly 95% survival rate.

When a person should consult a doctor depends on various factors.

A person may not notice any symptoms or signs of cancer. In these cases, a doctor may discover it during a routine blood test or examination.

A person should contact a doctor if they:

  • develop any unexplained symptoms that do not go away
  • notice any spots on their skin
  • notice a lump on their breast

Once a person has received a diagnosis of noninvasive cancer, they should work with a doctor to develop a plan of action.

Strategies may include scheduled follow-up visits to check the progress of treatment or of the cancer itself. The doctor will determine how often they want to see a person.

Noninvasive cancer is a type of cancer that has not spread past the tissue in which it first developed. Several cancers can first appear as noninvasive.

Although noninvasive cancers are generally easier to treat, a person will likely need continuous monitoring to check for the cancer’s return or development into a more aggressive, invasive form.

A person should work with a doctor to determine the most suitable treatment plan and course of action.