What is the National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP), and how does it work?
On this page
- What is the National Bowel Screening Programme?
- How the National Bowel Screening Programme works
- Frequently asked questions
What is the National Bowel Screening Programme?
The National Bowel Screening Programme is free for people aged 60 to 74 years. It aims to save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage when it can often be successfully treated. We estimate that in the two years of screening in the Bay of Plenty, with an eligible population of almost 90,000 people:
- 50,000 will be invited to participate
- 750 will proceed to have a colonoscopy
- 50 will be found to have bowel cancer.
The earlier bowel cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival. People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer and receive treatment when it is at an early stage have a 90 percent chance of long term survival.
How the National Bowel Screening Programme works
People from the ages of 60-74 years old will receive their first invitation in the mail within two years of the programme starting in the Bay of Plenty.
See below for where you can go to get more information regarding the Bay of Plenty Bowel Screening Programme (BOPBSP):
Where are colonoscopies performed in the Bay of Plenty?
Bay of Plenty Bowel Screening Programme colonoscopies are performed at Tauranga and Whakatāne endoscopy suites.
When did the programme begin in the Bay of Plenty?
The National Bowel Screening Programme started in the Bay of Plenty in May 2022.
Who do I contact if I have any questions?
About the National Bowel Screening Programme:
Freephone 0800 924 432
Talk to your General Practitioner (GP) or Māori Health Provider.
Frequently asked questions
The National Bowel Screening Programme (NBSP) is a programme designed to save lives by detecting existing bowel cancer and preventing cancer by removing polyps which may become cancerous.
People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and receive treatment when it is at an early stage, have a 90 percent chance of long-term survival.
People aged 60 to 74 years who reside in the Bay of Plenty and who are eligible for publicly funded health services. Information on who is eligible for publicly funded health services is available on the Ministry of Health website or by phoning 0800 924 432.
Some eligible people are excluded from the programme for the following reasons:
- received a colonoscopy within the past five years
- previously or currently being treated for bowel cancer
- entire large bowel removed
- currently being treated for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- not eligible for publicly funded health care.
There is also a large number of people who are not eligible to be invited because they have not had health sector contact in the previous three years. If you fit in to this criteria please contact the National Coordination Centre (NCC) and ask to be sent a kit.
We also encourage you to enrol with a General Practitioner (GP). Find your nearest GP.
The test kit arrives in the mail with clear instructions and is completed at home by the participant. The completed kit is then sent in the freepost envelope provided back to the laboratory. Results are sent to your General Practice (GP) and to Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty.
If your test is negative you will get a letter advising you of this. If positive your General Practice will contact you. A positive result does NOT mean you have cancer - however, participants will be referred for further investigation.
A small number of participants will return a sample which the laboratory cannot test. The most common reasons are:
- omitting to peel the bar code off the consent form and put it onto the sample bottle
- failing to return the consent form with the sample
- the sample not reaching the laboratory within 8 days of being taken
- the sample has been taken on an expired test kit.
Samples received by the laboratory 8 days after the sample is taken are not tested. Participants are advised not to do the test on Friday, Saturday or Sunday because postal delays could spoil the sample. Furthermore, the test kit has an expiry date and samples returned on an expired test kit are not tested.
To avoid having to repeat the test please read all instructions included with the test kit.
The invitation process is managed by the National Coordination Centre who will automatically have your details on their system from your NHI. All people eligible to participate in the bowel screening programme are sent an invitation to complete a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) on or around their birthday every second year.
Please ensure your GP has your correct contact details.
Do the test as soon as possible after receiving it. Keep the sample in a cool place until you post it. It does not need to be kept in the fridge.
The test needs to reach the laboratory within 7 days of being completed, otherwise it won’t be accepted. To prevent any postal delays, it’s best not to send it on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Make sure you place the yellow bar code on the test tube and fill out your consent form.
You need to return your test kit within six months of receiving it or the laboratory won’t be able to process it. It’s best to do the test as soon as you can and post it back within 7 days of completing it. The laboratory can’t process tests which have passed their expiry date.
After people have had their initial screen, those eligible will be invited to screen again every two years until they reach 75 years of age.
If you lose your kit or it expires, you can phone 0800 924 432 for a replacement kit at any time.
Kits can only be ordered in advance for priority populations (Māori, Pacific peoples, Quintile 5) following a discussion with their GP or other health provider.
Kits can also be ordered for participants who have lost or damaged their kit. All other participants will need to wait for their invite.
It is important that people of any age seek medical advice if they notice a change to their normal bowel habit, that continues for several weeks, or blood in their bowel motion (poo) as these symptoms could indicate bowel cancer. If you have any concerns about your bowel health please seek advice from your GP.
Bay of Plenty Bowel Screening Programme colonoscopies are performed at the Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals.
- If you are aged 59, you will get your pack around your 60th birthday, regardless of your birthdate.
- If you are aged 60-73, you will get your pack around your birthday.
- If you have an even birthdate (e.g. 2nd, 4th, 6th, etc of the month) you will receive an invitation in year 1 1 (between May 2022 and April 2023).
- If you have an odd birthdate (e.g. 1st, 3rd, 5th, etc of the month) you will receive an invitation in year 2 (between May 2023 and April 2024).
- If you are aged 74, you will get your pack before your 75th birthday (if you have not already been invited to screen).