What participation of women in 2021?

Breast cancer: the importance of detecting it in early stages to reduce mortality

Breast cancer accounts for a third of all new cancers in women. It is the most common cancer in women in France and the leading cause of death from cancer with 12,146 deaths in 2018. It is the subject of a organized national screening program in order to be detected at an early stage and reduce mortality.

Among the known risk factors for breast cancer, modifiable lifestyle factors have been identified, including alcohol use, smoking, being overweight/obese, and lack of physical activity. In fact, in metropolitan France, it is estimated that around 15.1% of breast cancers in women over 30 years of age in 2015 were attributable to alcohol consumption and 4.4% to smoking. [Circ 2018]. According to this same study, 10.6% of postmenopausal breast cancers (women over 50 years of age) were attributable to overweight and obesity.

Breast cancer screening: slight increase in participation in 2021, which recovers the decrease observed in 2020 but is still lower than in previous periods


million women had an organized screening mammogram in 2021

During 2021, 2.7 million women received an organized screening mammogram, corresponding to a national participation rate of 50.6% (vs. 42.6% in 2020). If the participation in 2021 partially compensated the deficit of the year 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic and confinements, the participation of the 2020-2021 period (46.6%) remains lower than that of the 2018-2019 period (49.1%) for all age groups, all metropolitan areas and almost all departments. In fact, since women are invited to undergo screening every 2 years, it is necessary to analyze the data for periods of two consecutive years.

COVID-19 will likely continue to disrupt breast cancer screening in 2021, but the overall decline in screening seen since 2012 across all age groups and regions is likely to continue. Among the other possible explanations, the impact of the controversy over the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening, the decrease in the offer of senology that generates difficulties in performing mammograms, as well as the increase in time between two screenings.

It should be noted that organized screening only represents a part of screening practice in France, and some women do so outside the recommendations.

Evolution of the participation rate in organized breast cancer screening, by age – Period 2005-2021

Observed regional disparities and very low participation in Ile-de-France and in the southeast

Participation for the 2020-2021 period varies from 21.4% in French Guiana to 53.6% in Centre-Val de Loire. We observe the same geographic gradient as in previous periods, with the highest levels of participation going from Brittany to the Rhône-Alpes region, and a very low participation in Ile-de-France -36.7%) and in the South-East (36.1% in PACA).

In 2021, the share by department ranges from 29.2% in Guyana to 65.7% in Savoy. For the 2020-2021 period, it ranges from 21.4% in Guyana to 58.0% in Côte d’Or and Indre-et-Loire.

Reduce risk factors thanks to our prevention systems

Public Health France has set up several systems accessible to all. Understanding health problems, reducing risks, changing behaviors… find all the information and tools in our archives and on our websites dedicated to:

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