This issue is very close to my heart as one of my closest friends lost her Dad to bowel cancer a few years ago. It was a fast moving cancer that caused a lot of pain, confusion and grief, which I think if it could be avoided it definitely should! This is why bowel screening is so important.
The National Bowel Screening Programme is a free programme to help detect bowel cancer. It is being offered every two years to men and women aged 60 to 74 years* who are eligible for publicly funded health care.
Why should you do it?
- New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world
- More than 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and 1,200 die from it. Bowel cancer kills as many people as breast and prostate cancer combined
- Bowel cancer is more common in those over 60 and affects more men than women.
Bowel screening every two years can help save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage, when it can often be successfully treated. There may be no warning signs that you have bowel cancer.
Further investigation can also detect polyps (growths). These are not cancer, but they may develop into a cancer over a number of years. Most polyps can be easily removed, reducing the risk that bowel cancer will develop.
If you develop any symptoms of bowel cancer, it is important that you talk to your doctor.
What do I have to do it?
People don’t need to register, they will automatically be contacted by mail to participate in the programme. However, people aged 60 – 74 years of age are encouraged to ensure
their details are up to date with their GP.
What DHBs currently offer it?
Free bowel screening is currently offered by:
- Hutt Valley District Health Board
- Wairarapa District Health Board
- Waitemata District Health Board
- Southern District Health Board
- Counties Manukau District Health Board.
Other district health boards will follow in stages:
- Nelson Marlborough, Lakes and Hawkes Bay District Health Boards will start by 30 November 2018.
- Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards will start by 30 June 2019.
- The remaining 10 district health boards will start over the next two years, by 30 June 2021.
For more information about bowel cancer and the National Screening Programme visit www.timetoscreen.nz or call 0800 924 432.