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Southland Mayor shares positive experience of National Bowel Screening Programme

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong is encouraging participation in the Southern DHB’s National Bowel Screening Programme, after recently taking part himself.

Mr Tong admits that after receiving his kit in the mail, he left it sitting untouched for some time.

"I didn’t open the packet for a while - I put it at the back of my mind because I had a lot on at the time," he recalls. "Then I got a little nudge from [partner] Sharon and decided to get on with it."

He says the test was "not difficult at all - in fact it was very easy, clean and safe, and it only took a matter of minutes."

After posting his test away, Mr Tong received his result less than a week later - and was very pleased to be given the all clear.

"Now I’m on the National Bowel Screening Programme register and will undertake the test every two years," he says. "I totally endorse the programme and am urging other eligible southern residents to take part as well."

Mr Tong has a special message for those who have reservations about taking the test.

"To those people like me who sometimes worry about what is involved in doing these things, I say just go for it. I found it a really simple, positive experience," he says.

The Southern DHB National Bowel Screening Programme has now been running for just over a year. As at the end of April 2019, it has detected 68 cases of bowel cancer and 737 cases of polyps, which can develop into cancer over time.

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.

The National Bowel Screening Programme

Screening can detect pre-cancerous polyps, or cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated

It is free of charge for people aged 60 to 74 years of age who are eligible for public healthcare

Invitations for those eligible to participate are sent through the mail, followed by a test kit

The kits are easy and simple to do, and samples are returned by mail for testing

People are being asked to make sure their details are up to date with their GP so they don’t miss out

If any member of the public notices potential symptoms - such as a change in their normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks, or blood in a bowel motion - they should see their GP right away, not wait for their screening test.

For more information visit or freephone 0800 924 432.

About bowel cancer in New Zealand

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the developed world

More than 3000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year and more than 1,200 die from it annually

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in this country

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.

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