Implementation of a Systematic Literature Search Strategy in a National Breast Cancer Guideline: The Relevance of Systemic Therapy in Lymph Node Recurrent Disease

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Purpose:Our aim was to implement a structured literature search using PICO (patient/intervention/comparison/outcome) questions and a standardized consensus method for the German Guideline ‘Detection, diagnostics, therapy and follow-up of Breast Cancer' using, as an example, the significance of systemic therapy in lymph node recurrent disease (LNRD). Methods: We defined specified PICO questions according to the clinical significance of a recommendation for systemic therapies in locoregional LNRD. A methodologist performed a systematic literature search including randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews and observational studies (2007-2016). In a consensus conference, the level of evidence and consensus was determined and the clinical recommendation was adopted. Results: In total 143 publications were identified according to the search strategy including 14 duplicates, which were excluded. 4 publications were included based on experts' choice. The team excluded 119 publications, leaving 14 that were then screened by a full text search. Finally, 1 publication was found to be of methodologically and clinically reliable content. The conclusion of this publication in favor of systemic therapy for LNRD received strong consent from the consensus conference. Conclusions: The literature search strategy using PICO questions helped to achieve a fast and standardized selection of publications. The recommendation concerning systemic treatment of LNRD was first implemented in the update of the German Breast Cancer guideline.

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