National Bowel Cancer Screening Canterbury
We are excited to inform you that Canterbury DHB has finally started rolling out the Bowel Cancer Screening! Starting November 2020, for every 2 years Canterburians aged 60-74 will be eligible for a free Bowel Cancer Screening as part of National Bowel Screening Programme.
You will receive a small testing kit with consent form in the mail on or near your birthday.
The roll out will gradually happen over the next 2 years. If your birthday is on an even date (2,4,6,8 etc) you will receive the kit in the first year of the roll out (2021). If your birthday is on an odd date you will receive it in the following year.
We are excited about this news as bowel screening could help save your life by finding bowel cancer at an early stage where it has higher change of successful treatment. It is possibly the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
About Bowel Cancer
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and it is the second most common cause of death from cancer. In 2011 alone, 3030 people were diagnosed with cancer and 1191 died from this.
Early detection of the cancer is the key to the treatment as, people who are diagnosed and treated early, have a 90 percent chance of long-term survival.
Signs and Symptoms
One of the reasons why colorectal cancer is so fatal is because especially in the early stage you could have no symptoms at all, but if you were to develop one, following are the common signs and symptoms:
- Blood in your stool (which can be bright red or black)
- Changes in your bowel habits, that continues for several weeks (such as diarrhoea or constipation).
Although there are many other less sinister conditions such as haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerance etc that can cause similar symptoms, we would still recommend you get checked by a doctor if you are not sure.
Screening is the most effective way to prevent bowel cancer.
You can also reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by having a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre, by exercising regularly and by not smoking.
Bowel Screening Kit
Bowel Screening Kit also known as Faecal Immunochemistry Test is simple and can be done at the comfort of your own home. You simply need to collect a small amount of your faecal sample and post it to the laboratory in the reply-paid envelope provided with the test kit.
The test looks for tiny amounts of blood (often not visible) in your poo, which is often the earliest sign of Bowel Cancers or precancerous growth/polyps.
If your test result is positive, you’ll be referred for a free colonoscopy. Colonoscopy involves inserting a camera into your bowel to check for polyps or cancers. If you had polyps, they can be removed at the same time.
Many bowel cancer develops from a precancerous growth/polyp. If we remove them early we can reduce the chance of bowel cancer from developing.
Positive FIT test doesn’t always mean you have a cancer. Only 7 out of a 100 people with a positive test result will have bowel cancer. Whereas seven out of 10 people with a positive test result will have polyps.
General Practice will be informed of the results and we will be in the background coordinating all the results and referrals so that prompt and seamless treatments/tests can be done for our patients.