Is the United States Preventive Services Task Force still a voice of caution?

Lenzer, J. BMJ. 2017;356.

Independent analyses of medical research are prized by doctors concerned about industry bias. Created in 1984, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has earned a reputation for its independent, objective guidance on clinical preventive services, and many have long viewed its recommendations as a bulwark against the increasing excesses of these services.

However in 2009, the task force was the subject of a backlash after issuing an unenthusiastic “grade C” recommendation regarding routine mammography screening of women aged 40 to 49. In 2012, USPSTF found itself again in the hot seat following its “grade D” recommendation against routine prostate cancer screening. Grade D recommendations are issued when the task force finds “moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.”

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BMJJeanne Lenzer