Whether it’s part of a routine check-up or to investigate an abnormality, almost all women living in France will at some point find themselves needing a mammogram, and regular screening is highly recommended – and free – for women over the age of 50. Getting a mammogram can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time receiving one in a foreign country, so here’s what you need to know
Can I Get a Free Mammogram in France?
The health system in France runs a free national breast-screening programme, and it is advised that all women aged between 50 and 74 get a mammogram (une mammographie) every two years. This service is refunded 100% by l’Assurance Maladie (France’s state health insurance).
For women under 50, mammograms are reimbursed up to 70% by the l’Assurance Maladie (if you have a Carte Vitale) if you are referred by a doctor – it is likely that your Mutuelle health insurance will cover the rest.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent female cancer in France, and the Association ‘Ruban Rose’ (Pink Ribbon Charity) raises funds and awareness concerning this cause – principally in the month of October, when many Mairies display pink umbrellas at their Town Hall.
80% of breast cancers occur in those over 50, hence the national availability of this service.
How To Make an Appointment for a Mammogram in France
If you are aged between 50 and 74, you will receive a letter inviting you to make an appointment for a mammogram, and a list of approved radiologists will accompany the letter.
If you are within the required age range and have not received a letter of invitation, you can also contact your medecin traitant (GP) to make an appointment.
If you do not have an invitation, it is best to see your medecin traitant first and receive a referral – this will ensure that the mammogram is covered by l’Assurance Maladie (a referral may also be required by your mutuelle). Appointments can be made directly with a radiologist too, but reimbursement will only be 30% without a referral, so it’s worth taking the extra step. (Not sure how France’s health reimbursement system works? Read our guide here.)
Your doctor will be able to recommend a radiologist, or you can search for your own via Doctolib – this is especially useful if you would prefer an English-speaking specialist.
Getting a Mammogram in France: What Happens at the Appointment
At the appointment, you generally be asked to remove your top and bra and will receive a detailed breast examination prior to the mammogram itself. You will typically have a short wait after the x-rays are taken before seeing the doctor again. You may be given initial feedback during your appointment, but the written results, which include the mammogram scans, will be sent out in the post.
Find out more about France’s breast cancer screening programme (programme de dépistage du cancer du sein) here.
What happens if I get a cancer diagnosis?
One in eight women are reported to receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime (read more about that here), but the good news is that with early diagnosis, breast cancer is very treatable – which is exactly why it is so important to undertake regular screenings. If you are affected by breast cancer, rest assured that France has an excellent healthcare system and if you have a Carte Vitale, 100% of your breast cancer treatment will be covered – read our detailed guide to Breast Cancer Care in France.
Everything You Need to Know About Healthcare in France
From understanding the French state healthcare system and visiting a doctor to choosing a mutuelle insurance and dealing with your and your family’s health concerns—FrenchEntrée is here to help. Follow our Essential Reading articles for everything you need to know about healthcare in France.
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