Former Dunedin mayor joins the National Bowel Screening Programme

Former Dunedin mayor joins the National Bowel Screening Programme

Former Dunedin mayor, Peter Chin, is urging southern residents to make use of the free National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) – especially those within his own Chinese community.

Bowel screening can find cancer early when it can often be successfully treated, as well as remove potentially cancerous polyps, or growths in the bowel. According to the Ministry of Health, people diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer who receive prompt treatment have a 90% chance of long-term survival.


“Cancer can feel like a scary word, but here we have a cancer that can be detected and much can be done to stop its progress,” says Mr Chin.

The NBSP provides free testing kits to residents aged from 60 to 74 years old in the Southern region, supporting early diagnosis and intervention. The tests, designed to be used at home, are quick, easy and clean to use.

Despite being outside the age of testing, Mr Chin is throwing his support behind the programme, and encouraging eligible members of the Chinese community to take part.

“Those who aren’t as conversant in the English language may not be aware of community health programmes like the National Bowel Screening Programme,” says Mr Chin. “The Chinese community is always renewing. There are people like me, who were born in New Zealand, as well as new migrants arriving all the time. If they see someone who looks like them advocating for a service, that builds automatic trust.”

Next month, the NBSP will host a series of information sessions for the Chinese community here in the south, in conjunction with Amity Health Centre, Dunedin Chinese Young Professionals and other community groups.

Peter Chin strongly believes it’s better to act with an “abundance of caution” when it comes to health, rather than avoiding check-ups and tests because of fear about potential results.

“Bowel screening is available for free, it’s straightforward, it doesn’t hurt – and you should do it,” he says. “It will either give you total peace of mind, or it will identify a potential problem that will be analysed and treated promptly.

“The earlier you detect bowel cancer, the greater the chance of being cured. Please don’t get into a situation where you regret not taking that test.”

As at 31 January 2019, 52 people in the Southern DHB region have been diagnosed with bowel cancer as a result of free bowel screening, which began here in April 2018. In addition, 385 people with non-cancerous polyps have been identified and treated.

“This is an excellent result for Southern residents and their families, whānau and communities,” says Dr Jason Hill, Clinical Lead for the Southern NBSP. “Through the screening programme, we’re identifying many patients with polyps, which, over time, can turn into bowel cancer. By removing these, we are helping to lessen the future burden of bowel cancer in our district.”

Dr Hill says if residents notice any potential symptoms – such as a change in their normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks, or blood in a bowel motion – they should see their GP right away, and not wait for their screening test.

The National Bowel Screening Programme

  • Screening can detect cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated
  • It is free for people aged 60 to 74 years of age who are eligible for public healthcare
  • Invitations to participate are sent through the mail, followed by a test kit
  • The kits are easy and simple to do at home, and samples are returned by mail for testing
  • People are being asked to make sure their details are up to date with their GP so they don’t miss out
  • For more information visit or freephone 0800 924 432.

About bowel cancer in New Zealand

  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the developed world
  • More than 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1,200 die from it annually
  • Bowel cancer is the second most commonly cause of cancer death in this country, after lung cancer
  • According to the Ministry of Health, people diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer who receive treatment early, have a 90% chance of long-term survival.
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