Breast Cancer Awareness & Prevention

Awareness and prevention are two effective tools in the fight against breast cancer.

You can help reduce your risk for developing breast cancer by making certain lifestyle changes. In addition, it’s important to detect breast cancer early through screening methods. Screening helps identify breast cancer before there are symptoms or at a very early stage when the chances for successful treatment are highest.

Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

It’s natural to be concerned about breast cancer and to take steps toward prevention by lowering your risk. Some risk factors, such as family history, can't be changed. However, some lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk. These include:

  • Limiting alcohol
  • Not smoking
  • Controlling your weight
  • Physical activity
  • Breastfeeding
  • Limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy

Talk to your doctor about your risk for breast cancer or make an appointment with our cancer-genetics experts if you have a family history of the disease.

Screening for Breast Cancer

Screening to detect breast cancer early is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Breast cancer screening methods include a clinical breast examination, mammography, and other imaging techniques.

The Center for Breast Care at UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center recommends a clinical breast exam starting at age 20 along with an annual mammogram starting at age 40 for women at average risk for breast cancer. Women at higher risk should talk to their doctor about a more frequent screening schedule and additional testing.

Our center is uniquely equipped to screen high-risk patients using enhanced surveillance methods. If you are at high risk or need to determine your risk, our Cancer Genetics Program is one of the best in the nation and can answer all of your hereditary breast cancer questions.

Clinical Breast Exam

A clinical breast exam is a physical examination of the breast performed by a health care provider to check for lumps or other changes. It’s recommended with routine gynecology exams at 1 – 3 year intervals in women ages 20 – 39. These exams can be performed by an Ob/Gyn or primary care doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant.

Checking one’s own breasts for lumps or other unusual changes is called a breast self-exam. This type of exam cannot replace regular clinical breast exams or mammograms. In clinical trials, breast self-exams alone were not found to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer.


Mammograms use X-rays to create an image of the breast tissue that can reveal abnormalities long before you or your doctor can feel them.

All mammograms performed at UT Southwestern are digital and are reviewed by a specialized radiologist dedicated to breast imaging.

With digital mammograms, the images are recorded directly into a computer allowing our radiologists to view them on a screen so that specific areas can be enlarged or highlighted. If there is a suspicious area, we can easily take a closer look.

Using state-of-the-art digital equipment, our radiologists and technologists strive to minimize your discomfort during a mammogram while achieving the views needed for an accurate reading. We even offer a mobile mammography program to make it convenient for you.

For the highest possible level of accuracy, all breast cancer screening mammograms are read independently by two or more UT Southwestern breast imaging radiologists. All of our radiologists are accredited by the American College of Radiology and the FDA.

Tomosynthesis, also available at UT Southwestern, is an extension of a digital mammogram in which X-ray machines are used to take pictures of thin slices of the breast from different angles. We use computer software to reconstruct the image, making it three-dimensional.

This technology uses slightly more radiation than most standard two-view mammograms, and it is not yet covered by all insurance companies; however, it may allow doctors to see dense areas more clearly. It’s an enhanced screening option for women with dense breast tissue or those at higher risk for breast cancer.

Learn more about what to expect before, during, and after a mammogram.

Other Imaging Techniques

While mammograms are currently the most useful tests for screening and detecting breast cancer early, other imaging tests may be helpful in some cases, particularly for women who are at higher risk for breast cancer or have had it before or for women with dense breast tissue.

These other imaging tests include:

  • Breast MRI
  • Breast ultrasound, also known as sonography

UT Southwestern offers both tests, and your doctor will work with you to determine if these additional techniques are needed.

Meet the Team

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a breast cancer screening specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.