Monday 12 June 2023Health news5 minutes to read
Almost two dozen West Coasters have had cancers detected much earlier and have improved their opportunities for successful treatment, thanks to ongoing free bowel screening and easier to use home test kits.
The good news comes as the free National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) recently marked its third year of successful delivery by Te Whatu Ora on the West Coast.
Since being launched at the end of May 2021, 53% of eligible West Coasters aged 60 – 74 years old have been invited to take part in the free bowel screening programme.
“To date, thanks to the programme, 23 participants have been diagnosed with cancer at a much earlier stage than they would have been had they waited for symptoms to develop. Cancers that are diagnosed early can often be treated much more successfully including reducing the need for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” says Te Whatu Ora West Coast’s Clinical Lead Dr Kevin Naidoo.
Dr Naidoo says that of the 8129 kits that have been sent, 4429 have been returned, with 226 of the tests returning a positive FIT (faecal immunochemical test) test result. This means that non-visible blood, that could be caused by pre-cancerous polyps or bowel cancer, has been detected in their bowel motion.
Earlier this year, the kits were also redesigned making them more user-friendly with clearer and simpler instructions for use. Kits are posted out and all eligible Coasters aged 60 to 74 years old who are enrolled with a GP should have now received an invitation to participate in the programme. Anyone who has not yet received a kit is asked to check that their GP has their correct postal address.
“We encourage everyone who receives a kit to use it, attach the unique label that identifies that the sample is yours and post it back straight away along with the consent form dated for the date you used the kit. If your kit hasn’t been returned after two weeks, you will receive a reminder phone call from the National Coordination Centre. Put simply – this little kit could save your life.”
From later in 2023, the bowel screening age for Māori and Pasifika people will also be expanded from 60 years currently, to include those aged 50 years and over.
Dr Naidoo says that the West Coast hopes to be able to extend the benefits of the programme to this new group by the end of the year.
“Our team have developed an equity plan focused on encouraging more participation by our Māori and Pasifika whānau. We are looking forward to working with our local hauora networks, Poutini Waiora, Te Ha o Kawatiri, Te Hono and Whare Manaaki to engage with our Māori and Pasifika whānau as well as with the West Coast PHO who continues to support this mahi.
“We know that completing the test, and potentially receiving a positive result, can be stressful for some, but the process of testing is very easy and has been lifesaving for several West Coasters. If you know someone who has received the kit and not yet completed it, please encourage them to follow the instructions and send it in.”
If, at any age, you have worrying signs or symptoms such as sustained, unusual bowel movements or blood in your faeces (poo), or have a family history of bowel cancer you should seek advice from your General Practice team as soon as possible. Put simply, early detection could save your life!
Similarly, should you need to contact the bowel screening programme, call 0800 924 432 or email email@example.com.
For more information visit – timetoscreen.co.nz
About the National Bowel Screening Programme
About bowel cancer in New Zealand
Page last updated: 12 June 2023
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