The aim of this study was to analyse the role of women's sociodemographic and healthcare access characteristics according to breast cancer screening practices (organized, individual or no screening). A cross-sectional study was set up in seven French districts using a self-administered postal questionnaire. Randomization was stratified proportionally on age and urban/rural status in each district separately among attendees and nonattendees to the organized breast cancer screening programme (OS). A total of 5638 women aged 50–74 years returned their questionnaires: 1480 in the attendee OS group and 4158 in the nonattendee group. Among them, 3537 declared having undergone a recent mammography outside the organized programme (individual, IS group) and 621 declared never having undergone a mammography or having done so more than 2 years ago (NS group). Analyses showed a gradient between the three groups (IS, OS and NS, respectively) in their association with breast cancer screening practices considering three factors: an increasing gradient was observed for renunciation of basic healthcare for financial reasons, a decreasing gradient in the regular visit to a medical gynaecologist and having had a Pap smear in the last 3 years. Three other variables that showed a decreasing gradient are: living with a partner, current use of hormone replacement therapy and having had a check-up in the last 5 years. In conclusion, the main differences between breast cancer screening practices were largely associated with difficulties in healthcare access, considering regular gynaecological visits in particular.