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Life-saving Bowel Health Checks Now Available Across All Of Auckland

Hon Andrew Little

Minister of Health

New Zealanders between the ages of 60 and 74 across greater Auckland now have access to free life-saving regular bowel health checks with Auckland DHB’s eligible population of 65,000 people joining the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP).

Auckland DHB has now joined the programme, Waitematā and Counties Manukau DHBs are already providing the service.

Health Minister Andrew Little says achieving access to bowel screening for the highest risk group of people across Tāmaki Makaurau is a great milestone.

“We’re now close to three quarters of the way to achieving our goal of nationwide coverage by the end of next year. That’s worth marking,” Andrew Little says.

“This programme is already saving hundreds of lives a year, it will save thousands more over years to come.

“Getting tested every two years means there’s a better chance of catching any problems quickly. If we catch and treat your bowel cancer early, you have a 90 per cent chance of long term survival.

“Bowel cancer is our second most common cancer, and a leading cause of death. Right now we have people turning up to Emergency Departments in pain or with other symptoms of advanced bowel cancer. That’s not right and we can help fix it, by taking a minute at home to take the test when we’re invited.

“The National Bowel Screening Programme is saving lives. It’s not a perfect programme, but it is a very good one and we will find ways to make it better,” Andrew Little says.

More about the National Bowel Screening Programme can be found here

Background:

Auckland DHB is the 14th DHB to join the National Bowel Screening Programme.

Auckland will add another 65,000 eligible people to the National Bowel Screening Programme and achieve 72 percent coverage nationwide.

Completion of the nationwide roll out is scheduled for completion by November 2021.

Once fully implemented, more than 700,000 people aged between 60 and 74 years will be invited to take part in the programme every two years.

For every 1000 people who complete a bowel screening test, about 50 will be positive. Of those, about 35 will be found to have polyps and on average 3 or 4 will have bowel cancer. Approximately 500 to 700 cancers each year are expected to be detected initially, once the programme is fully rolled out.

Two-yearly bowel screening is designed to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated. People who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90% chance of long term survival.

Screening as part of the National Bowel Screening Programme is free for those who are eligible, as are any follow-up tests or treatment.

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