New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and every year around 3,000 people are diagnosed, and sadly more than 1,200 die. The National Bowel Screening Programme is starting in Counties Manukau from June 2018 and offers a free test for all women and men aged 60-74. The screening test is easy to do and will save lives by detecting cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
Bowel cancer can develop without many signs. By the time there are more obvious signs, such as weight loss, changes in bowel habit and visible bleeding, the cancer has usually grown for some time and is, therefore, more complicated to treat. The bowel screening test identifies tiny amounts of blood in the stools (faeces) that you cannot see and this allows early detection before there are other signs.
"East Health Trust PHO knows the importance of early cancer diagnosis, and recommend and encourage our enrolled patients to participate in the new screening programme".
Keep a look out for your invitation letter in the post; these will be sent out gradually to those who are in the right age range (60-74). The bowel screening kit will be sent out shortly afterwards, with clear instructions on how to take the sample. Information on the test is also available in other languages including Te Reo Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Hindi, Chinese and Korean.
The results from the bowel screening will be available within three weeks from when you send off the sample. A colonoscopy is usually offered to those who have an abnormal bowel screening test. The colonoscopy involves passing a thin, flexible telescope through your back passage and looks at the inside of your large bowel.
It is important to remember that not everyone who has an abnormal bowel screening test has cancer. Some will have bleeding from piles (hemorrhoids), and others have innocent growths (polyps) in the bowel wall. These polyps are not cancer; however they can develop into cancer over time. Polyps will usually be removed during the colonoscopy.
To find out more, contact your doctor or nurse, or click the link below: