MAY 10, 2023 3:00 AM PDT

Task Force Updates Breast Cancer Screening Guidance

WRITTEN BY: Katie Kokolus

Yesterday the U.S. Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) announced an updated recommendation for breast cancer screening focusing on encouraging more women to begin biennial (every other year) mammograms at age 40.  This recommendation, available online now in draft form, is an update to the Task Force’s January 2016 recommendation that women aged 50 – 74 receive mammograms every other year.  At the same time, the USPSTF noted that women in their 40s should make an individual choice regarding regular breast cancer screening.    

The USPSTF, comprised of experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, serves as an independent team striving to improve the health of people throughout the United States.  The Task Force recommends preventative healthcare based on evidence and clinical data.  While the recommendations levied by the Task Force pertain to various preventative services, including cancer screening, behavioral counseling, and preventive medicines, the group's overarching focus remains to help stay healthy.  

Importantly, the USPSTF does not conduct its own studies or clinical trials.  Instead, this group reviews evidence on preventative approaches to different diseases to conclude the potential pros and cons of such measures. 

The Task Force includes a diverse group of 16 specialists appointed to a four-year term by the Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  The Task Force provides an annual report to Congress highlighting areas that could benefit most from additional prevention research.  The members of the Task Force specialize in primary care medicine, an important factor as the group focuses on developing recommendations for preventative services prescribed by a primary care physician. 

In addition to breast cancer, the USPSTF provides recommendations on strategies to prevent a variety of malignancies, including skin, lung, colorectal, prostate, ovarian, and thyroid cancers.  The Task Force recommendations do not stop with cancer.  The group offers recommendations for preventative strategies for over 80 diseases, illnesses, and injuries, including sleep apnea, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease, elder abuse, anxiety, and osteoporosis. 

The current update regarding breast cancer screening aligns with several recent studies suggesting notable rises in early-onset cancer incidence Labroots covered a comprehensive review of the global increase in cancer risk for young people in September.  In addition to breast cancer, there is evidence of increased rates of other malignancies, including colorectal and prostate cancers, in young adults. 


Sources: Nat Rev Clinc Oncol, Cancer Discov, Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I received a PhD in Tumor Immunology from SUNY Buffalo and BS and MS degrees from Duquesne University. I also completed a postdoc fellowship at the Penn State College of Medicine. I am interested in developing novel strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies used to extend cancer survivorship.
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