Cancer Screening: The Journey from Epidemiology to Policy

Stephen A. Deppen, Melinda C. Aldrich, Patricia Hartge, Christine D. Berg, Graham A. Colditz, Diana B. Petitti, Robert A. Hiatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cancer screening procedures have brought great benefit to the public's health. However, the science of cancer screening and the evidence arising from research in this field as it is applied to policy is complex and has been difficult to communicate, especially on the national stage. We explore how epidemiologists have contributed to this evidence base and to its translation into policy. Methods: Our essay focuses on breast and lung cancer screening to identify commonalities of experience by epidemiologists across two different cancer sites and describe how epidemiologists interact with evolving scientific and policy environments. Results: We describe the roles and challenges that epidemiologists encounter according to the maturity of the data, stakeholders, and the related political context. We also explore the unique position of cancer screening as influenced by the legislative landscape where, due to recent healthcare reform, cancer screening research plays directly into national policy. Conclusions: In the complex landscape for cancer screening policy, epidemiologists can increase their impact by learning from past experiences, being well prepared and communicating effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-445
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cancer Screening
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Policy


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