broad implementation of a screening test can achieve these
two goals requires extensive research and careful analysis of
the data generated.
In the United States, rigorous data analysis by members
of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—
an independent group of experts convened by the
Public Health Service—has led to evidence-based
recommendations for the use of screening tests for four
types of cancer among the general U.S. population (see
sidebar on USPSTF Cancer-screening Recommendations
for Average-risk Adults). These recommendations are reevaluated as new research becomes available and can be
revised if deemed necessary.
The USPSTF and other relevant professional societies’
evidence-based cancer screening recommendations are only
one consideration when a person makes decisions about
which cancers he or she should be screened for and when.
This is because everybody has his or her own unique risks
for developing each type of cancer, and the established
screening guidelines apply to average-risk individuals. A
person’s overall risks are determined by genetic, molecular,
cellular, and tissue makeup, as well as by lifetime exposures
to cancer risk factors (see Figure 8, p. 34). Therefore, every
individual should consult with his or her health care
practitioners to develop a cancer prevention and early
detection plan tailored to his or her personal cancer risks.
Given that risk for different types of cancer can vary over