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Celebrate 10 Years with Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.

Increasing Cancer Screening: Mass Media Targeting Clients

Mass media—including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards—are used to communicate educational and motivational information about cancer screening. Mass media can be used alone, but almost always include other components (e.g., client reminders) or attempt to capitalize on existing interventions and infrastructure. This review evaluated the effectiveness of mass media when used alone, or its unique contribution when used as part of a multicomponent intervention to increase screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of mass media interventions in increasing screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers because too few studies qualified for the review.

Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement

Results from the Systematic Reviews

The Task Force findings are based on evidence from a previously completed review (search period 1966-2004) and an updated review (search period 2004-2008). Updates of reviews are conducted to incorporate more recent evidence.

Read a summary of findings from the previous review or visit the Cancer Prevention and Control section of our publications page to access the complete articles.

Breast Cancer

Two studies qualified for the systematic review; their findings were inconsistent.

  • In Australia, radio and newspaper advertisements targeted Italian-speaking women.
    • Among women in their fifties, completed mammograms decreased by 16.1% for initial screens and 4.2% for following screens.
    • Among women in their sixties, completed mammograms decreased by 10.8% for initial screens and increased by 9.0% for subsequent screens.
  • A multicomponent intervention aimed at African-American women included a higher or lower intensity mass media component. When compared with the lower intensity component, the higher intensity program showed:
    • A decrease of 2.4 percentage points for mammography
    • An increase of 4.2 percentage points for clinical breast exams
    • Neither change was statistically significant

Cervical Cancer

Three studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Effects from all three studies were in the favorable direction, but only one reported absolute changes in screening (an increase of 4.7 percentage points).

Colorectal Cancer

One study qualified for the systematic review.

  • This study examined the effect of higher vs. lower intensity mass media as part of a multicomponent intervention.
  • Screening by fecal occult blood test (FOBT): decreased by 4.7 percentage points
  • Screening by protoscopy: decreased by 8.0 percentage points

These findings were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to cancer prevention and control.

image of planet Find Research-Tested Intervention Programs (RTIPs) about the use of mass media to increase cervical External Web Site Icon cancer screening (What is an RTIP?).

Supporting Materials


Sabatino SA, Lawrence B, Elder R, Mercer SL, Wilson KM, DeVinney B, Melillo S, Carvalho M, Taplin S, Bastani R, Rimer BK, Vernon SW, Melvin CL, Taylor V, Fernandez M, Glanz K, Community Preventive Services Task Force. Effectiveness of interventions to increase screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers: nine updated systematic reviews for The Guide to Community Preventive Services. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 235 kB] Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):765-86.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. Updated recommendations for client- and provider-oriented interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 90 kB]. Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):760-4.

Read other Community Guide publications about Cancer Prevention and Control in our library.

*PDF includes all of the information available and will not be updated.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation:
Guide to Community Preventive Services. Increasing cancer screening: mass media targeting clients. www.thecommunityguide.org/cancer/screening/client-oriented/MassMedia.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: October 2009