Population-based organized cervical cancer screening pilot program in France

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Abstract

In France, cervical cancer screening is recommended every 3 years for women aged 25–65 years. With the exception of a few local organized programs, screening is mainly opportunistic. In view of setting up a nationwide population-based organized screening program, a pilot intervention was implemented in nine geographic areas using a common protocol. Women aged 25–65 years who had not undergone a cytological screening in the past 3 years were invited for screening during 2010–2012 and reminded up to 1 year after the initial invitation. Cytological results and follow-up data were collected up to the end of 2014 for all women screened irrespective of whether spontaneously or following invitation. Aggregate data were centralized nationally. Among the 2.4 million women from the total target population aged 25–65 years, 1.3 million were invited for screening. The overall screening coverage during 2010–2012 was 62.3%, with wide variations across geographic areas, ranging from 41.6 to 72.5%. Initial invitations and reminders enabled nearly 280 000 women to be screened, corresponding to an estimated increase in coverage of 12% points. Overall, 4.2% of the women screened had an abnormal smear. A total of 5180 high-grade cervical precancers and 323 invasive cervical cancers were reported, corresponding to detection rates of, respectively, 623 and 39 per 100 000 women screened 3-yearly. This study indicates that such organized screening may markedly improve the uptake of cervical cancer screening. On the basis of this pilot program, nationwide organized cervical cancer screening is currently being rolled out in France.

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