Bowel screening starts in Whanganui

  • Hon Dr David Clark

Health Minister David Clark is encouraging Whanganui residents to take up the opportunity for free bowel screening, which can detect cancer early when it’s easier to treat.

Over the next two years 12,000 Whanganui locals, aged 60 to 74 will be invited to participate in the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) and around 25 cases of bowel cancer are expected to be found. 

David Clark says taking the test, which can be performed at home, could save your life. 

“People who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90 per cent chance of long-term survival. 

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. It’s obviously better for everyone if we can catch these cancers before they become advanced and are harder to successfully treat, as well as more costly.

“Prevention and early detection of cancer through screening programmes is an important part of the Government’s comprehensive Cancer Action Plan announced last month. At the same time we’ve funded more cancer medicines and we’re purchasing 12 new linear accelerators which deliver radiation treatment.

“Modernising our approach to cancer care and control is a major challenge and will take time - but we’re getting on with it, knowing screening programmes are a big part of the answer,” Dr Clark said.

Since it started just over two years ago the National Bowel Screening Programme has:

  • Screened around 180,000 people
  • Detected nearly 400 cancers
  • Led to the removal of hundreds of pre-cancerous polyps. 

Whanganui is the 9th DHB to join the National Bowel Screening Programme and follows Waitemata, Hutt Valley, Wairarapa, Southern, Counties Manukau, Nelson Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Lakes DHBs. 

MidCentral DHB is expected to join the programme next month, which will mean 10 out of the country’s 20 DHBs will be offering free bowel screening to just under half the total eligible population. The nationwide roll-out of the NBSP is expected to be completed by the end of June 2021. 

More information about bowel cancer and the national programme can be found here: