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Positive Step Forward for Bowel Cancer Screening

Positive Step Forward for Bowel Cancer Screening

According to the NZ Ministry of Health, bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, but it can be treated successfully if it is detected and treated early.

Positive Step Forward for Bowel Cancer Screening

Earlier this year the Health Minister Hon. Dr David Clark initiated an independent review of the National Bowel Screening Programme after it was found some people did not receive invitations for screening during the pilot phase of the programme that ran from 2011 to 2017. For some people, this may have led to a delay in their bowel cancer diagnosis.

On completion of the review, the NZ Ministry of Health has accepted the series of recommendations to revise the programme. Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ) spokesperson Professor Sarah Derrett says, “There is no doubt the review was needed after the issues that came to light during the early phases of the screening programme rollout. This review, called for by the Minister of Health the Hon Dr David Clark, is a positive first step in identifying what needs to be done to improve the programme.”

Derrett says, “As a charity we see, and experience, the challenges people face in getting access to diagnostic services for bowel cancer – both within the screening programme and for people aged under 60 years who are outside the screening programme. It is essential that the workforce capacity issue is addressed urgently. Workforce capacity is a key factor in delaying the rollout to all DHBs (screening is currently available in 5 of 20 DHBs), which means we will be waiting until 2021 for the last DHBs to offer screening.”

BCNZ encourages open discussion about bowel cancer with medical professionals and avoiding ‘sitting on your symptoms’. Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion;
  • Change of bowel motions over several weeks without returning to normal;
  • Persistent or periodic severe pain in the abdomen;
  • A lump or mass in the abdomen;
  • Tiredness and loss of weight for no particular reason;
  • Anaemia.

More information on bowel cancer and BCNZ can be found at

http://www.beatbowelcancer.org.nz

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