Up to 700 cases expected to be detected in bowel cancer screening roll out

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NZN

A national bowel-screening programme will begin its roll out in the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley.

Man in a hospital bed.

A pilot scheme at Auckland's Waitemata DHB began in late 2011 and now a programme of free screening will be country-wide by 2020, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says.

Eligible residents will be sent letters this week to notify them.

"We know that this programme will help to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is easier and the outcomes more successful," Dr Coleman says.

It's expected that up to 700 cases of bowel cancer will be detected annually with the screening implementation.

Currently, around 3000 New Zealanders being diagnosed and more than 1200 die from it, meaning New Zealand has one of the world's highest bowel cancer rates.

Once it is fully rolled out in 2020, more than 700,000 people aged between 60 and 74 will be invited for free screening every two years.

A study released earlier this year showed bowel cancer has risen significantly among New Zealanders under 50 over the past two decades.

Among under 50s, distal colonic cancer in men increased by 14 per cent per decade, while rectal cancer rose 18 per cent in men and 13 per cent in women per decade.

The study's data came from the National Cancer Registry and was linked to population statistics from 1995 to 2012.

Bowel cancer is also known as colorectal cancer and covers all cancers of the colon, rectum and large bowel.

More than $77 million has been invested into the screening programme's progressive roll-out to date, with a further $19 million invested into delivering more colonoscopies quicker.

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