Dene, one of more than 1000 Kiwis thankful to the National Bowel Screening Programme

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 - 10:47

Twizel resident Dene Madden considered himself to be in very good health, so he was shocked to learn through screening that he had bowel cancer.

Dene, 67, is one of more than 1000 New Zealanders who have had cancer detected by the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) since the national roll out began four years ago.

The free programme, targeted at 60 to 74 year olds, is New Zealand’s newest cancer screening programme and our first screening programme for both men and women. Bowel screening aims to reduce New Zealand’s 1200 plus deaths a year from bowel cancer by finding cancer early, when it can often be successfully treated. 

NBSP Clinical Lead Dr Susan Parry says bowel cancer is New Zealand’s second most common cancer but it’s also highly treatable if caught early.  ‘This programme is expected to detect 500 to 700 cancers in the initial years and change the fortunes of hundreds of people and their whanau. That is so exciting!” 

Participants in the NBSP receive a home test kit in the mail, which is designed to detect minute traces of blood in a bowel motion that can indicate the presence of bowel cancer.

Dene completed his home test kit and posted it off. He was surprised to receive a positive result.  “I had absolutely no symptoms at all and it never even dawned on me that I had an issue,” Dene says.

Dr Parry says Dene’s story is typical.  ‘Bowel screening is for well people, who are not experiencing symptoms, so a finding of cancer can come as a shock.’

Dene underwent a colonoscopy during which polyps (growths in the bowel wall were found) and specimens sent them off for analysis. One turned out to be cancer. Dene has since had surgery and it appears the cancer has been fully removed.  

Dene urges anyone who receives a NBSP test kit to do the test. “It could save your life,” he says.

 More about the National Bowel Screening Programme can be found here



Page last updated: 14 September 2021