11 Jun 2015

Gaps found in $24m bowel screening pilot

7:20 pm on 11 June 2015

The first report on a $24 million bowel screening pilot scheme in Waitemata has found there is more work to be done before it can be rolled out nationwide.

The programme, which began in January 2012, invited local residents aged 50 to 74 years old to provide a stool sample, and those who tested positive were sent on to have a colonoscopy.

The overall detection rate for a benign tumour was 34.3 per 100 screened, while a total of 95 participants, or two in every 1000 screened, had cancer detected.

Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand.

Dr Susan Parry, the clinical director of the Ministry of Health's bowel cancer programme, said she was happy with the pilot's participation rate of 53.5 percent.

"It doesn't mean to say we can't do better, we'd love to have 60 percent. But bear in mind people have free choice, they read information, they make a decision about whether they want to participate or not."

The report suggested more work go into improving participation among Maori and Pacific people, and those living in deprived areas.

It also came up with an updated estimated cost for a national screening programme, putting it between $27 and $51 million a year.

The Government set aside $12.4 million in Budget 2015 to extend the pilot through until the end of 2017.

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