Te Whatu Ora Southern Bowel Screening Team marks five-year milestone
The Te Whatu Ora Southern team was proud to mark the five-year anniversary of the National Bowel Screening programme recently and is delighted with the results achieved.
The Southern Bowel Screening Team has one of the highest overall participation rates in the country and the highest rate among Māori at 67.4% taking part in the national screening programme.
Te Aka Whai Ora kaumatua Matapura Ellison, who has been a bowel screening champion for five years, says “don’t be frightened or reticent about the test – it's easy to do. Get on board this waka for your mokopuna.”
“As a participant in the programme myself, I was very surprised to be identified as needing further investigation, so I have been on an annual check for the last three years.
“It has taken a load off my mind to know I’m alright and that I took steps to give voice to my own mana motuhake – doing my bit to protect my health,” Matapura says.
It’s important to keep encouraging Māori to participate in the national programme.
“In my own whānau experience I knew that it was only a random visit my father made to his GP for something completely different that led to him being positively diagnosed.
“If it hadn’t been picked up his life would have been shortened. Participating can help save lives.”
As of April 18, a total of 130,379 kits have been sent out and 89,632 returned, which corresponds to a 69% participation rate, well above the target of 60%. Some 4,122 tests returned a positive result.
Cancers that are diagnosed early can often be treated much more successfully, including reducing the need for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Southern Programme Clinical Lead Dr Jason Hill says more than 300 participants have been diagnosed with cancer at a much earlier stage than they would have been had they waited for symptoms to develop and many more have had polyps removed, which can, if left untreated, develop into bowel cancer.
“The programme has surpassed all expectations, in terms of participation rates and achievement of key performance indicators, and this had had a major impact in reducing the burden of this disease in our community. The results for the Southern district are amongst the best across the motu,” Dr Hill says.
The Southern programme has detected 319 cancers, out of a national total of 1,936.
Earlier this year the kits were redesigned which made them more user friendly with clearer and simpler instructions for use.
In 2022, the Government announced the bowel screening age for Māori and Pasifika people will be lowered from 60 to 50 years old starting in 2023.
Dr Hill says that Southern hopes to be able to extend the benefits of the programme to this new group as soon as possible, and the team is already working hard to ensure high participation rates.
“We acknowledge that completing the test, and potentially receiving a positive result, can be a daunting thought for some but the process of testing is very easy and has been lifesaving for hundreds of Southern residents.”
About the National Bowel Screening Programme
- Screening can detect cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated
- Screening is free for those aged 60 to 74 years of age who are eligible for public healthcare
- The starting age for people who identify as Māori or Pacifica is planned to be lowered to 50 in Southern from late 2023 or early 2024
- Invitations and test kits for those eligible to participate are sent through the mail.
- The kits are easy and simple to do at home, and samples are returned by mail for testing
If any member of the public notices potential symptoms – such as a change in their normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks, or blood in a bowel motion – they should see their GP right away, not wait for their screening test.
About bowel cancer in New Zealand
• New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the developed world
• More than 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1,200 die from it annually
• Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in this country
• People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer at an early stage have a much greater chance of being successfully treated.
For more information visit timetoscreen.nz or freephone 0800 924 432.
The Dunedin National Bowel Screening Programme team marks five years of the programme that is having a significant impact in the south.
The Southland National Bowel Screening Programme team marks five years of the programme that is having a significant impact in the south.