National Bowel Screening Programme

The National Bowel Screening Programme is available to eligible New Zealanders, aged 60 to 74. It aims to save lives by detecting bowel cancer at an early stage, when it can often be more successfully treated.

For consumer information

If you’re looking for information about bowel screening, visit Time to Screen or phone 0800 924 432.

The benefits of bowel screening

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand. More than 3000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and more than 1200 die from the disease.

People who are diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90 percent chance of long term survival.

Bowel screening every two years can help save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage, when it can often be successfully treated. There may be no warning signs that someone has bowel cancer.

Bowel screening can also detect polyps. These are not cancer, but they may develop into a cancer over a number of years. Most polyps can be easily removed, reducing the risk that bowel cancer will develop.

Background

The National Bowel Screening Programme was rolled out between July 2017 and May 2022, following a successful Bowel Screening Pilot, which offered bowel screening to eligible people aged 50 to 74 years living in the Waitemata DHB area.

Data collected during the Pilot provided vital information on participation levels, cancer detection rates and the impact on health services, and helped inform decisions about the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP).

Where to find further information

Documents related to the NBSP, such as guidelines and standards, resources and reports, will be published on the NSU website as they become available.

General information on the NBSP and how to do the test is available on Time to Screen.

More information is available on the Ministry of Health website, such as:

For more on familial gastrointestinal cancer go to the New Zealand Familial GI Cancer Service website.

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Page last updated: 20 June 2022