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Bowel Screening update (Lakes)

Due to staffing issues at the DHB the proposed "go live" date for bowel cancer screening in the Lakes DHB has been deferred to February 2019.

Many thanks to those of you who attended the education evenings in Rotorua and Taupō recently.

Key messages for GPs and practices to take away

  1. Encourage patients to be part of the screening - especially those in the high needs category (Maori, PI, dep 9-10).
  2. We expect 5 per cent of screening tests to be positive.
  3. For people with a positive FIT we expect 70 per cent will have polyps, and 7 per cent will identify a cancer.
  4. Bowel cancers that are identified in the programme are more likely to be at stage 1-2 than those identified in symptomatic people.
  5. The programme reduces bowel cancer mortality by up to 22 per cent.

Where areas have implemented the programme there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of symptomatic individuals coming forward and being referred for colonoscopy - so we can expect patients to be more aware of bowel cancer symptoms.

Patients may be targeted by direct to consumer advertising to access a "blood in the bowel" screening service through companies working outside the bowel cancer screening service. The MOH have produced a statement advising against this, and emphasising that it is only positive tests undertaken within the screening programme that will automatically result in a colonoscopy / colonography.

If a patent presents to you with a positive FOBT or OTC "blood in the bowel" test, you need to manage that case on its merits, but it is unlikely a publicly funded colonoscopy will be offered on this basis alone.

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