Cancer survival rates improve across France

Those suffering from the most common cancers in France have seen their survival rates improve significantly, according to a major study published on Tuesday.

Cancer survival rates improve across France
Photo: AFP
The study, which was carried out by four major French institutes, looked into the three most commonly occurring cancers in France – breast, prostate and colorectal.
The stats were taken from a comparison of two separate five-year blocks – 1989 to 1993 and 2005 to 2010.
And the report authors noted that the findings were “encouraging”.
Perhaps most encouraging of all was with prostate cancer, the most common cancer that affects French men, which saw a jump from a survival rate of 72 to 94 percent.
Breast cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among French women, saw a jump in survival rates from 80 percent to 87 percent. 
This improvement was put down to “major therapeutic advances” in the early 2000s, and a higher proportion of cancers detected at an early stage thanks to improved screening practices, the researchers noted.
Lastly, colorectal cancer survival rates improved over the period from 54 to 63 percent. 
The study did not include data for lung cancer, which is the fourth most commonly occurring cancer among the French. It is the most fatal cancer for men, and the second most fatal for women after breast cancer. 
France's National Cancer Institute reported that even though survival rates are improving, there are still tens of thousands who are affected each year. 
The latest stats from the institute, from 2012, showed that France had 57,000 new cases of prostate cancer, 48,000 reports of breast cancer, and 42,000 cases of colorectal cancers. 
Tuesday's report was jointly carried out by the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance, the French National Cancer Institute, the Francim Cancer Register, and the Lyon Hospitals. 

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France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.