Bowel screening saving lives

More than 320 New Zealanders have had their bowel cancer detected in the last two years thanks to the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) says Health Minister Dr David Clark. 

The Programme, which is being progressively rolled out around the country, has just celebrated its second birthday. 

“Bowel screening saves lives by helping to find bowel cancer at an early stage, when it can often be successfully treated,” David Clark said. 

“People who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90 percent chance of long term survival. That’s why screening is so important.” 

The NBSP, New Zealand’s first cancer screening programme for both men and women, began following a successful pilot in Waitematā DHB, where bowel screening is now well established. It targets 60 to 74 year olds because most bowel cancers are found in this age group. 

As well as finding more than 300 cancers, the national programme has led to the removal of hundreds of potentially cancerous polyps. 

“This is a programme that is saving lives. Bowel cancer is our second most common cancer killer, with around 1200 deaths a year. 

“We need to encourage the older people in our lives to do the simple home test after receiving it in the mail and to keep doing it every two years, as long as they are eligible,” said David Clark. 

The Government invested $36 million in the Wellbeing Budget for the ongoing roll-out of the National Bowel Screening Programme.

Additional information: 

Eight DHBs are now offering bowel screening, covering 43% of the eligible population. They are: Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Waitematā, Southern, Counties Manukau, Nelson Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Lakes. 

More about the National Bowel Screening Programme can be found here or on the Ministry of Health website.