Bowel screening now in the Bay
Hawke’s Bay is the seventh region to take part in the National Bowel Screening Programme aimed at detecting early signs of bowel cancer.
HBDHB clinical lead of gastroenterology, Dr Malcolm Arnold, says taking part in the programme could be life-saving, thanks to early detection.
One in 18 males and one in 21 females will experience bowel cancer by the age of 75 in New Zealand.
“The National Bowel Screening Programme will identify cancers earlier and allow us to remove precancerous polyps which will in the medium to long-term reduce the incidence of bowel cancer,” Malcolm says.
All eligible Hawke’s Bay residents aged between 60 and 74 were automatically enrolled in the programme and preinvitation letters would be sent out daily, via a birth date system, taking approximately two years to reach all residents.
People also had the opportunity to opt out when they receive their first letter.
“The free home test kit is discreet, simple and clean to use,” Malcolm says.
“A poo sample is collected on a test stick, placed in a sample tube then secured in a zip-lock bag. A Freepost envelope is provided and within three weeks of a sample being posted, that person will be contacted about their results.”
Minister of Health David Clark officially opened Hawke’s Bay’s new gastroenterology and endoscopy services building recently at Hawke’s Bay Hospital. The $13 million facility will boost the hospital’s ability to prevent and treat gastro and bowel conditions, including bowel cancer.
Malcolm says Hawke’s Bay’s population had a significant number of gastroenterological problems, many of which were undiagnosed.
“This facility combined with the rollout of the National Bowel Screening Programme in Hawke’s Bay means we can catch cancer at its early stages, when people are not experiencing symptoms, and can more readily investigate symptoms which may be in keeping with inflammatory bowel disease and provide earlier, more effective treatment.
“This will make a real difference in the lives of many patients and their families in Hawke’s Bay each year,” he says.
Hawke’s Bay DHB Bowel Screening team members (from left) Claire Caddie, Louise O’Connor, Nerissa Kirkby, Paula Jones, Lynda Mockett and Dr Malcolm Arnold.