More than 100 cases of bowel cancer have been identified through the Southern DHB’s National Bowel Screening Programme, a significant milestone that illustrates the programme’s important role in reducing the burden of bowel cancer across the district.
In addition to the 101 cancers detected since the Southern DHB programme’s inception in April 2018, a further 726 people have been found to have polyps, which can develop into cancer over time.
"These numbers represent lives saved and whānau spared the agony of losing a loved one,” says the programme’s Clinical Director, Dr Jason Hill. “This programme is already making a significant difference to our communities, and its effects will be felt well into the future.”
Programme Manager, Emma Bell, is delighted with the results to date.
“It’s incredibly rewarding to see these figures,” she says. “They remind us that the programme is having a huge impact on people’s lives – this is why we turn up for work every day.”
Programme Director of the National Bowel Screening Programme, Stephanie Chapman, says, “Congratulations to the Southern DHB for being the first in the country to reach this National Bowel Screening Programme milestone. We would like to thank everyone involved for bringing the resounding benefits of the Programme to so many.”
Participation rates remain high in the South at 72% overall, compared with 63% nationally.
However, more than a quarter of residents who have received invitations to take the test are yet to do so – and Emma Bell is encouraging them to take part.
“We know sometimes people put off doing the test because they are scared of getting a positive result, but early diagnosis increases the chances of having straightforward and successful treatment,” she says.
The National Bowel Screening Programme is free for those aged 60-74 who are eligible for publicly-funded healthcare.
According to the Ministry of Health, people diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer who receive treatment early have a 90% chance of long-term survival.