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Community Celebrates Start of Life-Saving Bowel Screening Programme

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A bowel cancer survivor, the mayor of Dunedin and Southern DHB’s commissioner are among those encouraging everyone who is eligible to participate in the National Bowel Screening Programme, launched in the Southern district today.

Their voices joined Southern health staff, NGOs and community members in Dunedin and Invercargill this week who are celebrating the launch of the new district-wide programme that will save lives and prolong health for many people across Otago and Southland.

Over the next two years 51,000 people aged 60 – 74 years of age will be invited to participate in the programme, with the first invitation letters going out to the community this week.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, is encouraging all eligible residents to take the test: “Given Otago’s high death rate from bowel cancer, this is a fantastic - and long awaited - opportunity for local men and women to identify early stage cancer in time to receive lifesaving treatment. I urge everyone eligible to take the test.”

Speaking about the launch Commissioner Kathy Grant said, “This programme is an important one for our Southern communities, as it will save lives and support our families, whānau and communities to be healthy for longer. We acknowledge the huge effort of all those involved across the health community to launch this programme and celebrate the value it brings to our wider community.”

Ken Bowie, 69, from Invercargill was diagnosed with bowel cancer 18 years ago and is a supporter the new programme. He urges people to make sure that they complete the test kit when it arrives in the mail.

“You should do the test for your own peace of mind, and what’s more if you are wondering about something that feels a bit off, don’t just hang around, go and get it checked. I was told I had polyps for up to seven years before I was diagnosed. They would have likely been picked up by something such as the screening test, before they developed into a tumour. “

Southern DHB, which has some of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country, is the first DHB in the South Island to roll out the programme. Over the next two years it is expected that over 100 cases of this cancer will be identified.

Find out more about bowel screening