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France

France announces new anti-cancer plan as smoking increases

media President François Hollande presents the cancer prevention plan Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

France is to invest 1.5 billion euros in easing access to cancer treatment over the next five years. President François Hollande said France’s third anti-cancer plan aims to give "the same opportunities to everyone everywhere in France" when he announced the plan on Tuesday.

Some 150,000 people die each year in France of cancer, which is the country’s top cause of death.

Hollande pointed to inequalities in screening, access to treatment and exposure to risks.

The plan focuses particularly on screenings for women, notably for cervical cancer.

Some 3,000 women are affected each year and over 1,000 die.

The goal is to reduce mortality by 30 per cent over the next 10 years, above all be reducing inequality in access to treatment.

"It’s a test that varies depending on where you live and your economic status," national cancer institute president Agnes Bzyn. "We are also developing full financial coverage of breast reconstruction surgery, so any woman, wherever she is and even without the means, can access breast reconstruction.é

As for prevention, the plan is focused on tobacco, the main avoidable cause of cancer in France.

Over 30 per cent of deaths from cancer in France are due to cancer and Hollande said the government will boost measures to help people kick the habit.

Despite increases in the price of tobacco price, France's smoking rate is 33 per cent.

The official auditor's office has judged previous anti-smoking campaigns a failure as the rate has started to rise again after an initial fall.

A day before the anti-cancer plan was unveiled, the United Nations warned that cancer rates around the world will increase by half by 2030, affecting 21.6 million people a year, compared to 14 million in 2012.

Socialist MP Thomas Thévenoud has called for tobacco companies to contribute more to fighting cancer.

"With a turnover of two billion euros and profits that never stop rising, reaching nearly a billion euros a year, the tobacco muntinationals could shell out," he said.

Fighting the effects of smoking costs France 45 billion euros a year, while tax recespits from the industry are just 14 billion euros, he said.

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