Screening for Breast Cancer - Update in Progress
This topic page summarizes the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) ongoing work on screening for breast cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) has started the process of updating its recommendation 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 through December 11, 2013 and the final Research Plan was then issued in July 2014.
"As experts in primary care, we all want better screening, better treatments, and better ways to prevent breast cancer. My Task Force colleagues and I know and respect that this is an important and deeply personal topic for women, families, and communities across America. We invite you to join us in our work on this important topic."
—Dr. Virginia Moyer, Chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
In this video, Dr. Bibbins-Domingo, co-vice chair of the USPSTF, discusses the Task Force's final Research Plan on screening for breast cancer and provides an overview of the Task Force's process for developing a recommendation.
How does the draft 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/Page/Topic/recommendation-summary/v2-breast-cancer-screening-2009.
Is the Task Force about to make a new recommendation on screening for breast cancer?
No. The Task Force is in the initial stages of updating its recommendation on screening for breast cancer; the first stage of our recommendation process is to develop and post a draft Research Plan for public comment. The draft Research Plan guides the evidence to be collected and reviewed for a topic. After the Research Plan is finalized, we will begin to review the evidence. Once the evidence has been reviewed, we will begin to develop a draft Recommendation Statement.
We want to hear from you.
The Task Force invites input from the general public and provides public comment opportunities throughout the recommendation development process. The draft Research Plan on screening for breast cancer was available for public comment from November 14 to December 11 on the Task Force Web site. After the public comment period closes, we review each comment received as we work to finalize the Research Plan. The final Research Plan will then be posted on the Task Force Web site. The Research Plan will guide the evidence review, which is then used to develop the draft Recommendation Statement.
To view the current recommendations on screening for breast cancer, visit http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Topic/recommendation-summary/v2-breast-cancer-screening-2009.
Internet Citation: Screening for Breast Cancer - Update in Progress. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. October 2014.