New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. More than 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1200 die from it.
Bowel cancer occurs when normal cells on the inside of your bowel become abnormal and grow out of control. These cells can turn into a polyp (growth) and some polyps may grow into a cancer over time. There may be no warning signs of bowel cancer in the early stages.
Regular bowel screening of people who do not have any symptoms of bowel cancer provides an opportunity to find bowel cancer early. This means it can be treated sooner and the long-term outcome is likely to be better.
Find out more about bowel cancer symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment.
Bowel screening is for people who don’t have any symptoms of bowel cancer. If you have any bowel symptoms that concern you, talk to your doctor straight away.
In the pilot, about 80% of cancers detected were in people aged 60 to 74 years. This means screening is being offered to those most likely to have bowel cancer or an advanced polyp detected by a follow-up colonoscopy.
As a colonoscopy is an invasive procedure that carries some risk, it is important to ensure that the benefits of screening outweigh any potential harm. Your doctor will help you decide if a colonoscopy should be carried out.
National bowel screening programme or phone 0800 924 432 Information about bowel screening in other languages