Over the next two years, more than 28,000 residents in the region, aged between 60-74, will be invited to participate in the programme, with the first invitation letters due to be sent out from 12 November.
The programme aims to save lives through detecting pre-cancerous polyps, or finding bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. People who are eligible will receive an invitation letter, home testing kit and consent through the mail. The test detects traces of blood in a small sample of faeces. This can be an early warning sign for bowel cancer, alerting health providers that further tests are required, typically through a colonoscopy procedure.
There is a lot of interest among the wider health community, says Dr Nick Tindle, Clinical Lead for the MidCentral DHB National Bowel Screening Programme.
“We estimate around 58 cases of bowel cancer will be detected during the first two years of the programme, many of which will be in the early stages when it is easier to treat,” Dr Tindle said “This shows the value of the programme, as it will save lives.”
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 more thab 1200 people every year in New Zealand. People who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90 per cent change of long term survival.
Planning has occurred for the expected increase in the number of colonoscopies that will be required in the first two years of the programme. GPs and primary care staff also play a key part in the programme. They will be contacting participants about positive test results and supporting them on their journey through diagnosis and treatment.
Invitation letters will coincide with people’s birthdays, allowing for a constant and even flow of invitations over 24 months.
People who have a birthday with an even number (e.g. 2nd, 4th, 6th of the month) will receive an invitation in year 1 (between late November 2019 and November 2020). Those with an odd birthdate number (e.g. 1st, 3rd, 5th of the month) will receive an invitation in year 2 (between November 2020 and November 2021). People who are having their 60th birthday will receive an invitation around the time of their birthday, regardless of their birth date. After a person has been invited for the first time, future correspondence will be based on their previous screening dates.
The programme started in July 2017 with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa the first DHBs involved. 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.
Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945