Buller District Council

Bowel cancer screening program rolled out on the West Coast

8th June, 2021

Last week on Monday (31 May) the national bowel cancer screening program was rolled out on the West Coast.

The program aims to detect bowel cancer early through test kits that are sent out to people 60 to 74-years old. The kits enable people to easily take a fecal sample at home and send it away for testing.

People living in Buller, Grey and Westland districts aged 60 to 74-years and who are registered with a general practice will receive an invitation to participate in the programme in their letterbox.

From 1 July 2021, the test kits will be sent out to people who have their birthday on a day with an even number.  People with a birthday on an odd number will receive their test kits next year.

The test kit includes instructions and a sample taking kit. Once the sample is taken, it is sent back for analysis. People taking part in the program will be contacted within three weeks with the result.

Councillor Phil Rutherford says: “It is great to see that our older residents will have access to this easy bowel cancer screening initiative. It is a simple process, delivered to your letterbox that can save your life.

I encourage everyone who receives the invitation letter to use the opportunity. If you know somebody who is between 60 and 74-years and not registered with a general practice, tell them to register to take part in the next two years.”

Bowel cancer typically affects  people over 60 years old, especially men. If bowel cancer is detected and treated early, the chances for survival are higher. Without screening bowel cancer is difficult  to detect at an early stage.

The National Bowel Screening programme was launched in 2017 after a successful pilot program.

Since 2017, most district health boards (DHB)  have joined the program with the West Coast DHB being one of the last four to participate. With the West Coast now covered, the Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Northland joining this year, the program is expected to be implemented nationwide by the end of 2021.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world with 1200 people dying each year from it. The West Coast has the eighth highest rate compared to other DHBs with 76.5 people per 100,000 suffering from the disease.

“The West Coast has the third highest mortality rate in New Zealand of people dying from bowel cancer. I really encourage our residents to get behind it. Doing this little test can save your life and change this number.”


For more information contact:
Rachel Townrow


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