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Bowel Screening Programme Proving Valuable

The National Bowel Screening Programme, which launched in November 2019, has seen 3,576 people in the MidCentral District receive invites to participate, with 1418 having returned their kit for testing. Seventy six people have returned a positive test kit, and 26 of these have already had a follow-up colonoscopy. One cancer diagnosis has been made.

There remains 2158 outstanding kits awaiting return for testing, and 71 tests will need to be re-done.

Tests need to be re-done for a range of reasons including not having the correct label attached, the consent form not being filled out correctly, or the sample not reaching the laboratory within the required seven days.

Dr Nick Tindle, Clinical Lead for the MDHB National Bowel Screening Programme, says the results so far demonstrate how important this programme is for the MDHB community.

“A positive test result doesn’t necessarily mean cancer, but the fact that we are getting people tested and have identified one person with cancer shows the value of the programme. It will save lives. It’s really important that those who haven’t sent their test kits back do so.”

The screening test detects traces of blood in a bowel motion, which can be caused by polyps (growths) or haemorrhoids (piles) as well as cancer.

Bowel screening is being offered to 29,000 people aged between 60 and 74 in the MDHB region over the next two years.

People aged 60-74 will get the test kit in the post around their birthday. If they have an even birthdate (e.g. 2nd, 4th, 6th of the month), they will receive it in the first year. If they have an odd birthdate (e.g. 1st, 3rd, 5th of the month), it will be in the second year of the programme.

Those who are aged 59 will get their test kit around their 60th birthday. People who will turn 75 before they are scheduled to be invited will receive a kit prior to their 75th birthday to ensure they can participate in at least one round of screening.

The programme started in July 2017, MDHB being the 10th DHB to roll out the programme. Once the national programme is fully implemented, more than 700,000 people aged between 60-74 years will be invited to take part in screening every two years.

For more information of the National Bowel Screening Programme, go to www.timetoscreen.nz or to talk to someone about the bowel screening programme call freephone 0800 924 432.

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