CPSTF Recommends Patient Navigation Services to Increase Cancer Screening and Advance Health Equity

A health care worker shows a patient a computer screen

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends patient navigation services to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings among historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations and people with lower incomes. The recommendation is based on a systematic review of 34 studies.

Patient navigation services are expected to advance health equity when implemented among these populations who often have lower screening rates.1 With timely and appropriate follow-up care and treatment, patient navigation services may improve health for these groups.

The recommendations for patient navigation services complement CPSTF’s recommendations for interventions engaging community health workers and multicomponent interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings.

What are Patient Navigation Services for Cancer Screening?

Healthcare systems provide patient navigation services to help patients overcome barriers to accessing cancer screening. Services are often offered to populations experiencing greater disparities in cancer screening, including people from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic populations and people with lower incomes. They include client reminders, reduced structural barriers or improved assistance getting around them, reduced out-of-pocket costs, or a combination of these approaches. Services may also provide one-on-one or group education.

Patient navigation services are delivered by community health workers, patient navigators, healthcare professionals, nurses, social workers, or others. They are often designed to be culturally- and language-appropriate.

Why is this important?

Screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers, combined with appropriate follow-up diagnosis and treatment, can reduce cancer mortality, and in some cases reduce cancer incidence.2-4 Compared with the general population, cancer screening rates are lower among people from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups and people with lower incomes.1 Identifying and expanding the use of evidence-based interventions to increase screening could help reduce some of these screening disparities.

For More Information:

The Community Guide, Cancer Screening

CDC, Cancer Prevention and Control

National Cancer Institute, Evidence-based Cancer Control Programs

National Navigation Roundtable


1 Sabatino SA, Thompson TD, White MC et al. Cancer screening test receipt – United States, 2018. MMWR 2021;70(2):29-35.

2 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Breast cancer: screening. Bethesda (MD): 2016. Accessed June 15, 2022. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/breast-cancer-screening

3 USPSTF. Cervical cancer: screening. Bethesda (MD): 2018. Accessed June 15, 2022. URL: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/cervical-cancer-screening

4 USPSTF. Colorectal cancer: screening. Bethesda (MD): 2021. Accessed June 15, 2022. www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/colorectal-cancer-screening