News and Notices

It's Time to Screen - An Update on the National Bowel Screening Programme in Nelson Marlborough

The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme is complete, meaning about 835,000 eligible New Zealanders now have access to free two-yearly bowel screening. A national media campaign is about to start to remind people of the importance of taking the easy-to-complete at-home test.

Nelson Marlborough Results:

Bowel screening commenced in Nelson Marlborough in August 2018, and since then we have sent out 57,976 test kits out and completed 1,164 colonoscopies. A total of 74 colorectal cancers were detected, as well as hundreds of polyps and pre-cancerous growths that had the potential to become cancers if not caught early.

Most of these people were asymptomatic; meaning they would have had no idea anything was wrong. The whole point of the programme is that it picks up on those people when it’s much more likely their treatment will be successful.

The Bowel screening team at the hospital work with Te Piki Oranga and Pacific Trust to encourage participation in the screening programme.


About the Programme:

The roll out of Bowel screening programme started in July 2017 with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. The roll out ended with the final DHB Bay of Plenty launching in June 2022. Nationally about 1,102,021 test kits have been sent out and 19,245 colonoscopies completed and about 1,413 cancers being detected. Further information and resources can be found on the Time to Screen website.


Screening is a Proven Intervention

With more than 1200 deaths a year, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Bowel screening is a proven intervention that detects cancer early. People who are diagnosed with early-stage bowel cancer, and who receive treatment early, have a 90 percent chance of long-term survival.


Who is eligible?

Bowel screening is available to people aged 60 to 74 years old.

The Government has announced next year, the age of eligibility for Māori and Pacific peoples participating in the programme will be lowered to 50 years.

Waikato and Tairāwhiti will pilot the lower age range later this year, followed by a staggered roll out across the country from July 2023.


How does it work?

It is free and easy to complete, and you can do the test at home.

The test gets mailed out to those who are eligible to complete and is then sent back in a pre-paid envelope.

The test is designed to be completed at home and it detects tiny traces of blood in a stool sample which could indicate if there is a problem.


What can you do?

Have conversations with your whānau about importance of bowel screening to remind them:

  • It is an easy test to complete.
  • The test is free to do and can be completed in their own home
  • As soon as kit arrives in the post, do the test straight away.
  • Make sure the Doctor has their correct address as the kit arrives in the mail direct to your front door.
  • Encourage people to visit the website:

Time to Screen Website