Cervical cancer screening is progressing in France, as is vaccination against the papillomavirus infection which causes this disease, but they remain insufficient, health authorities warn on Monday.

Every year, almost 3,000 women develop this cancer and 1,100 die from it, recall the French public health agency and the National Cancer Institute on the occasion of European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

A potentially eliminable cancer 

However, for the World Health Organization, this cancer could be totally eliminated thanks to two effective and complementary interventions: screening and vaccination, which prevents human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.

Screening aims to detect precancerous lesions and treat them before they develop into cancer.

It can also detect and treat cancers at an early stage.

It must be carried out within the recommended time intervals: every 3 years between 25 and 29 years (after 2 tests carried out 1 year apart and whose results are normal) and every 5 years between 30 and 65 years.

Where are the women ?

Women who have not done so are reminded by mail and benefit from full support for the test, with no upfront costs.

Public Health France estimates that the national screening coverage for all women aged 25 to 65 is 59% for the period 2018-2020.

A slight increase compared to the previous period (58% in 2017-2019). 

This figure varies greatly with age and location.

It reaches 65% between the ages of 25 and 45 and then decreases significantly from the age of 50 to fall to 45% among women aged 60-65. 

Vaccination coverage in progress but insufficient

The lowest coverage (less than 50%) is observed in the overseas departments and regions, with the exception of Réunion, as well as in Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-d'Oise and the Val-de-Marne.

The coverage is in any case "insufficient" and "far from the 70% recommended by the European Union", according to the public health agency.

Second pillar of prevention, vaccines exist since the 2000s against human papillomavirus infections.

Vaccination coverage has been progressing among adolescent girls for several years but remains insufficient.

In 2020, it was estimated at 41% for one dose at age 15 (35% in 2019) and 33% for the full regimen at age 16 (28% in 2019).

Several countries, including France this year, have also extended vaccination to boys.

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  • Vaccine

  • Health

  • Cancer

  • Screening

  • Women

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