National Bowel Screening Programme
For consumer information
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.
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:
- information on the NBSP, including frequently asked questions about the programme and key documents relating to the implementation of the programme
- information on the Bowel Screening Pilot, including evaluation reports
- New Zealand guidelines for surveillance for those with a family history of bowel cancer
For more on familial gastrointestinal cancer go to the New Zealand Familial GI Cancer Service website.
In this section
This page provides detail on how the lower eligible age range for Māori and Pacific people participating in the National Bowel Screening Programme will be implemented. This follows the Budget 22 announcement that funding is being made available to shift the eligible age, at which Māori and Pacific people become eligible for bowel screening, from 60 to 50. The change is being made to address a health inequity.
In May, there will be a focus on promoting bowel screening in primary care.
There has been significant media coverage about some Waitemata residents missing out on an invitation to participate in the Bowel Screening Pilot.
Information on how our National Bowel Screening Programme compares with programmes in other countries.
A statement from National Bowel Screening Programme Clinical Director Dr Susan Parry and GP lead Dr John McMenamin on use of self-purchased bowel screening kits.
Access publications and reports relating to the National Bowel Screening Programme.
The National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) is pleased to announce the Puhimoana Ariki Collective as the successful provider for the national bowel screening multimedia campaign.
Position statement from the National Bowel Screening Programme on reporting test results.
Resources for health professionals on the National Bowel Screening Programme.