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Screening for Breast Cancer


This topic page summarizes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) ongoing work to update its recommendations on screening for breast cancer.


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) is in the process of updating its recommendations on screening for breast cancer. The first step in this process is the development of a research plan, which guides the scope, conduct, and content of a systematic evidence review. The draft research plan was posted for public comment from November 14 to December 11, 2013. The final research plan was posted July 24, 2014.

“Every year, too many American women face the challenge of dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. We all want better, more effective ways of detecting, treating, and—most importantly—preventing this devastating disease... In this next phase, we will thoroughly review the evidence and determine our recommendations based on this evidence. We will post drafts of both the evidence review and the recommendation statement on our Web site for your comments… We welcome and encourage your feedback during the public comment period.”

–Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Co-Vice Chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force


Screen shot of the Screening for Breast Cancer video. Click on the image to go to the video page.

How does the research plan fit into the recommendation process?

The Task Force bases its recommendations on a rigorous, systematic review of the available scientific evidence on each topic. In order to make a recommendation, we first develop a Research Plan to guide which evidence will be collected and reviewed for a topic. Getting the framework and specific research questions right at the beginning of the process ensures that we have the best evidence when developing a recommendation. This also helps ensure that recommendations are valid, reliable, and useful to patients, families, and clinicians.

What does a research plan contain?

The heart of the Research Plan is an analytic framework that describes how a clinical preventive service could lead to improved health outcomes, as well as any potential harms that could also accompany its use. The Research Plan also specifies the key questions that will be systematically reviewed. Finally, the Research Plan contains details about what types of research studies will be included and excluded from the systematic review.

Why is the Task Force updating its recommendation on screening for breast cancer now?

The Task Force bases its recommendations on the current evidence about preventive services. Recognizing that science and medicine are constantly advancing, we are committed to updating our recommendations on a regular basis. To keep the recommendations useful to health care professionals and the public, we aim to update each recommendation about every 5 years. We last reviewed the evidence on screening for breast cancer in 2009. It is time for us to start the process of reviewing the literature in order to update this recommendation. To learn more about the 2009 recommendations on this topic, visit http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm.

Is the Task Force about to make a new recommendation on screening for breast cancer?

No. The Task Force is in the process of updating its breast cancer screening recommendation. This takes time. Now that the research plan has been finalized, the Task Force will begin to review the evidence. Once the evidence has been reviewed, the Task Force will begin to develop an updated draft recommendation statement. The draft evidence review, which is developed by an Evidence-based Practice Center, is posted for public comment with the draft recommendation statement.

Did the Task Force review the comments on the draft research plan for screening for breast cancer?

Yes. The Task Force reviewed each and every comment received on the draft research plan and used this feedback to finalize the research plan. The research plan guides the evidence review, which is then used to develop the recommendation statement.

What changed between the draft and the final research plan?

After analyzing all of the comments received, the Task Force made edits to the research plan based on what is within the scope of the Task Force's efforts. More detail on those specific changes can be found on the breast cancer Questions & Answers page, as well as in the final research plan.

Supporting Documents

Research Plan

Supporting Document Related Items
Final Research Plan Topic Background Document (PDF File, 232 KB; PDF Help)
Questions & Answers

To view the current recommendations on screening for breast cancer, visit http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsbrca.htm.

Current as of July 2014


Internet Citation:

Screening for Breast Cancer, Topic Page. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/breastcancer.htm



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