Background: The two aims of the study were, first to estimate the declared two-year coverage of breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings, and second to determine the main factors influencing female cancer screening behaviors.
Methods: Three groups of women from the 2003 French decennial health interview survey were analyzed: 3378 women aged 50-74 years who answered the question on mammography use, 7912 women aged 25-65 years who answered the question on Pap-smear use, and 2528 women aged 50-65 years who answered both questions.
Results: The declared coverage of breast cancer screening was 71.2%, the declared coverage of cervical cancer screening was 76.3%. Almost 18% of women declared having undergone neither a mammography nor a Pap-smear in the last two years. The main factor linked to a more frequent practice of one or both cancer screenings (breast or cervix) was to have undergone recently the other screening. The other factors linked to mammography use were mainly healthcare and practitioner access variables. Those linked to Pap-smear use were mainly socioeconomic and socio-demographic variables, healthcare and practitioner access variables being also linked. The main factors linked to having undergone none of these two screenings were of financial nature, particularly household income and home ownership.
Conclusion: The study showed that it is appropriate to communicate on both screenings at the same time since they have a positive effect each other. Finally, practitioners continue to play a central role in collecting information on cancer screenings and encouraging screening in women not regularly screened.