Colorectal cancer: 2020-2021 screening data

Rectum colon cancer infographic

Colorectal cancer: a preventable cancer

How does colorectal cancer develop?

Colorectal cancer develops from cells that line the inside lining of the colon or rectum. Most often, these malignant tumors arise from a benign tumor that grows slowly and eventually becomes cancerous.

How can colorectal cancer be detected?

Colorectal cancer can be discovered at an early stage through screening for fecal occult blood. In France, an organized screening program is offered every 2 years to people aged 50 to 74 inviting them to take a screening test. People with a positive test result are asked to have a colonoscopy to check for the possible presence of precancerous lesions or cancer.

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

Several modifiable risk factors relating to lifestyle (alcohol consumption, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, diet with low fiber consumption, excessive consumption of red meat or processed meats) have been identified and these cancers are therefore partly preventable.

The key figures of colon rectum cancer

Rectum colon cancer infographic

Colorectal cancer: key screening results in 2020-2021

Nearly 35% of the population underwent a colorectal cancer screening test in 2020-2021, an increase compared to the previous period (2018-2019) but still below the European standard (45%)

  • 6.1 million people took a colorectal cancer screening test in 2020-2021, representing a participation rate of 34.6% versus 30.5% in 2018-2019. Participation in the organized colorectal cancer screening program is the highest since 2010. The health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and then in 2021 does not seem to have had a significant impact on participation in the program at the national scale. Several avenues could however explain the increase in 2021, for example better adherence of the population to screening or a catch-up in results due to a shortage in the supply of screening kits. We will have to wait for next year’s results to better understand and interpret those of the last two years.
  • Higher participation rate among women (35.7%) than among men (33.5%), which increases with age and varies according to the departments:
    • among men: from 31.9% among 50-54 year olds to 39.6% among 70-74 year olds
    • among women: from 33.5% among 50-54 year olds to 39.5% among 70-74 year olds
    • the lowest rates are observed in Guyana (8.1%), Guadeloupe (17.0%) and Corsica (17.3%)
    • the highest rates are observed in Maine-et-Loire (49.2%), Saône-et-Loire (46.2%) and Isère (45.8%)
  • Proportion of positive test of 3.6% (219,910 people tested positive), higher in men (4.3%) than in women (3.0%), which increases with age and varies according to the departments :
    • among men: from 3.7% among 50-54 year olds to 5.7% among 70-74 year olds
    • among women: from 2.7% among 50-54 year olds to 3.8% among 70-74 year olds
    • it also varies according to the departments from 3.2% to 4.4%


monkit.dé order and receive your colorectal cancer screening kit at home

Since March 1, it is possible, for men and women aged 50 to 74, with their invitation to participate in organized colorectal cancer screening, to order the test online to receive it at home: is a site of the Ministry of Health and Solidarity, Health Insurance and the National Cancer Institute. It aims to facilitate and diversify the methods of access to the screening test already available to the patient (general practitioner, gynecologist, hepato-gastroenterologist, etc.). Its objective is to promote the participation of the target population in this life-saving screening.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here