While people might be spooked by witches or monsters turning up at their door this Halloween, they shouldn’t be scared of the bowel screening test arriving in the mail, says Emma Bell, Programme Manager for the Southern Bowel Screening Programme.
Latest figures from Southern DHB show that Southern residents have already returned 66% of the bowel screening test kits since the National Screening Programme was launched in April. However, that means that over a third (34%) of Southern residents have not sent their kits back, and one of the reasons for that could be fear. (1)
“We know that some people are scared to do the bowel screening test, because of fear around what they might find or of doing the test itself,” explains Emma Bell. “However, people need to understand that the test is simple, clean, and really easy to do, and if you do get a positive result for traces of blood, it most likely isn’t going to be bowel cancer. Instead, positive results are most commonly caused by polyps (growths), or other minor conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles). However, if there is something more serious going on, picking it up early before you have symptoms means that you have a much better chance of a full recovery, so it’s better to find out early than to wait until symptoms appear.”
People who do receive a positive result will be referred for further investigation, usually through a colonoscopy. Southern DHB has created videos showing what people can expect when they go in for a colonoscopy, to help inform them and reduce any fears they have around the procedure. The videos are available on their YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/SouthernDHB/
Southland based Bowel Screening Champion Shona Fordyce’s late husband had bowel cancer, and understands first hand how fear can influence people’s actions around their own health and welfare. “Fear’s a big thing, we don’t like to talk about our body parts in lots of ways but the more it’s spoken about the more we realise it’s ok to talk about it (bowel health). This screening test could help us to be around for years to be with our whānau and our mokopuna, it is so easy.”
The free home-based screening programme is for men and women aged 60 to 74 years of age who are eligible for publicly funded health care and don’t have any symptoms of bowel cancer. Already over 20 cases of bowel cancer have been discovered in the Southern district through the programme, for which people are now receiving treatment.
The National Bowel Screening Programme is being sent out to over 51,000 Southern residents through the mail during the first two years of the programme, timed to coincide with people’s birthdays. You can find out more at timetoscreen.nz or call freephone 0800 924 432.
1. Figures as of October 1 2018