Pacific people encouraged to do bowel screening test

Latest News 25 November 2019 |A drive to get more Pacific people to do the bowel screening test in Counties Manukau is underway.

Since the launch of the National Bowel Screening Programme in Counties Manukau over a year ago, more than 52,000 test kits have been sent out to eligible residents.  Although participation numbers have been steadily rising, Pacific participation is low.

“Pacific people who have bowel cancer are more likely to die from their cancer compared to non-Pacific. Their cancer is usually found later when it is difficult to treat. This makes screening in this population even more vital,” says clinical lead for the Counties Manukau Health Bowel Screening Programme Dr Alasdair Patrick.

“Pacific people can benefit the most from screening, as early detection will usually mean the cancer is treatable.”

A heavy focus on promoting to the Pacific community is currently underway.

“Our bowel screening team are promoting the Programme at local community events, talking with church leaders, local employers and Pacific health and community services, as well as promoting across Pacific media networks,” says Dr Patrick.

“We understand the importance key community leaders play in the lives of our Pacific community. We appreciate their support on championing this Programme to families.”

All tests and treatment under the National Bowel Screening Programme are free for eligible participants (people aged 60- 74 years who are eligible to receive public healthcare, and who are not currently receiving treatment, or surveillance for bowel cancer).

Invitations will be sent to those eligible around the time of their birthday. Each eligible resident will receive an invitation letter, home testing kit and consent form through the mail.

“Please encourage relatives of the screening age to do the test. It’s important our Pacific community talk about doing the test with their family to normalise the conversation on bowel screening and early detection,” says Pacific Community Coordinator - Counties Manukau Bowel Screening Programme Helen Taai.

“E sili le puipuia, I lo’o le togafitia - prevention is better than a cure.”

If you or a family member has received a test kit, please do the test and send it back. If you haven’t received a test kit or need another, please phone 0800 924 432 to request one.

Facts about bowel cancer

  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.
  • Bowel cancer kills as many people as breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
  • Currently 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year and 1,200 die from it.
  • Bowel cancer is more common in those over 60 and affects more men than women.
  • Common symptoms may include:
    • A change to your normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks.
    • Blood in your bowel motion (poo).
  • Although these symptoms are usually caused by other conditions, it’s important to get them checked by your doctor.
  • Deterioration of bowel health and bowel cancer is not a necessary part of aging. You can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by having a healthy diet high in fruit, vegetables and fibre, regular exercise and by not smoking.
  • People don’t need to register; they will automatically be contacted by mail to participate in the programme. However, people aged 60 – 74 years of age are encouraged to ensure their contact details are up to date with their family doctor.

For more information about the programme, please visit, or call 0800 924 432, or talk to your family doctor.

Issued by: CM Health Communications

Media Line: 09 250 9857

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