National Bowel Screening Programme

National Bowel Screening Programme

Southern DHB saving lives through bowel screening

1bowelSouthern DHB’s free bowel cancer screening programme is for men and women aged 60 – 74 years of age.

From late April 2018, Southern residents will be among the first in the country to benefit from a new, free, bowel cancer screening programme.

Bowel cancer, also known as colorectal cancer or colon cancer, is any cancer that affects the colon (large bowel) and rectum (back passage).

The disease kills over 1,200 people every year, and Southern DHB has some of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country. Yet people who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90% chance of long term survival.

Bowel screening every two years can help save lives. A positive test can lead to a colonoscopy which may find and remove pre-cancerous polyps or detect bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated.

Screening is free for those who are eligible, as are any follow-up tests or treatment.

Testing is done at home using a bowel screening test kit received through the mail.  The kit is quick, easy and simple to do by yourself at home and is returned by post.

Invitation letters will be timed to coincide with people’s birthdays, allowing for a constant and even flow of invitations over 24 months. People with an even numbered birthdate (e.g. 2nd August) will receive an invitation in year 1 (between late April 2018 and April 2019), and those with an odd numbered birthdate (e.g. 3rd August) will receive an invitation in year 2 (between April 2019 and April 2020). After a person has been invited for the first time, future correspondence will be based on their previous screening dates.

It is anticipated that over 100 cases of bowel cancer will be identified in the first two years of the Southern screening programme, and that many of these will be in the early stage.

You do not need to register to participate in the screening programme, anyone who is eligible to participate will automatically receive an invitation in the mail. However, people aged 60 to 74 years of aged are encouraged to check that their address details are up to date with their GP.

People who are eligible are those entitled to receive public healthcare, and who are not currently receiving treatment, or surveillance for bowel cancer. 

Please note: If you do have unusual bowel symptoms, don’t wait to be screened. Screening is for people who have no symptoms of bowel cancer. People of any age with unusual bowel symptoms should contact their doctor immediately.

More information

The National Bowel Screening Programme is being progressively rolled out throughout New Zealand. Read more

Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the bowel. It is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer. Read more

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Regular bowel screening every two years can help detect cancer at an early stage, when it can be more successfully treated. Read more

The free bowel screening test is simple, clean and fast to do. You do it by yourself at home. Read more

You will receive a letter with your results and information about what this means for you. You may also receive a call from your doctor or a nurse.  Read more

How to access information on bowel screening in te reo Māori, Cook Island Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Hindi, Chinese and Korean.  Read more

These videos have been created by Southern DHB to help you know what to expect when coming for a colonsocopy at Southland or Dunedin Hospitals.

To talk to someone about the bowel screening programme call Freephone 0800 924 432.