Breast Cancer Screening: What Women’s Participation Will Be in 2021?

Breast cancer: the importance of detecting it at an early stage to reduce mortality

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

Among the known risk factors for breast cancer, modifiable lifestyle factors were identified, including alcohol consumption, smoking, overweight/obesity, and physical inactivity. In fact, in the French capital, it is estimated that about 15.1% of breast cancer cases in women over 30 in 2015 were attributed to alcohol consumption and 4.4% to smoking. [Circ 2018]. According to this same study, 10.6% of postmenopausal breast cancer cases (women over 50) are attributable to overweight and obesity.

Breast cancer screening: a slight increase in participation in 2021, which catches up with the decrease marked in 2020 but still lower than in previous periods

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One million women underwent regular mammograms in 2021

During 2021, 2.7 million women underwent structured mammograms, which corresponds to a national participation rate of 50.6% (vs 42.6% in 2020). While participation in 2021 partially compensated for the shortfall for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and booking, participation in 2020-2021 (46.6%) remains lower than that of 2018.-2019 (49.1%) for all age groups and all urban areas And almost all departments. In fact, since women are invited to undergo screening every two years, it is necessary to look at the data over a two-year scale.

COVID-19 will likely continue to disrupt breast cancer screening in 2021, but the overall decline in screening seen since 2012 in all age groups and regions may continue. Other possible explanations include the effect of controversy over the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening, the reduced supply of aging leading to difficulties in getting mammograms, as well as the increased time between the two examinations.

It should be noted that organized screening is only part of the practice of screening in France, and some women do it outside the scope of the recommendations.

Evolution of the participation rate in structured breast cancer screening by age – 2005-2021

Regional disparities and very low participation are noted in Ile-de-France and in the southeast

Participation in 2020-2021 ranges from 21.4% in French Guiana to 53.6% in Center Val de Loire. We observe the same geographical gradation as in previous periods, where the highest levels of participation moved from Brittany to the Rhône-Alpes region, and very low participation in Ile-de-France -36.7%) and in the southeast (36.1% in the GCAA).

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

Reducing risk factors thanks to our prevention systems

Several systems have been made accessible to all by Public Health France. Understanding Health Issues, Reducing Risks, and Modifying Behaviors… Find all the information and tools in our dedicated files and websites regarding:

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