Bowel Screening Programme


COVID-19 and bowel screening

The National Bowel Screening Programme is continuing as normal, with appropriate safeguards in place to keep participants and staff safe.

Invitations and bowel screening kits are being sent out as normal. If you receive a kit in the mail, we recommend you complete it and send it back as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing possible symptoms of bowel cancer, such as a change in your normal bowel habit that continues for several weeks or blood in your bowel motion (poo), it is important to seek advice from your family doctor, who will refer you for urgent assessment and treatment.

If you need more information, or need help in another language, free phone 0800 924 432.


What is the National Bowel Screening Programme?

This is a free programme to help detect bowel cancer.

The National Bowel Screening Programme is being rolled out across New Zealand  starting in 2017.  It is being offered to men and women aged 60 to 74years who are eligible for publicly funded health care.

Bowel screening is for people who don’t have symptoms of bowel cancer.  If you have any bowel symptoms that concern you, discuss these with your doctor.  don’t wait to receive your free bowel screening 

Doing the bowel screening test

If you’re eligible for free bowel screening, you will be sent a test kit, instructions on how to use it, and a consent form.

Below is a short video on how to do the test.

The free test is quick, clean and simple to do. You do it by yourself at home.

The test is part of the National Bowel Screening Programme that is being rolled out across New Zealand.

How to do the test

To do the test, you need to:

collect a small sample from your bowel motion (poo) using the test stick, and put it into the tube
put the sample tube in the zip-lock bag provided, along with the signed and completed consent form
post it as soon as possible in the reply-paid envelope provided.

Do the test as soon as possible. You need to return your test kit within six months of receiving it or the laboratory won’t be able to process it. The laboratory can’t process tests which have passed their expiry date.

Keep the sample in a cool place until you post it. It does not need to be kept in the fridge. To prevent any postal delays, it’s best not to send it on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

About the screening test

We use a test called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). This test can detect tiny traces of blood present in a small sample of your bowel motion (poo) – which may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your bowel. You do the test yourself in your own home.

Who should do the test?

Most people aged 60 to 74 years can do the bowel screening test. This includes people who are at increased risk of bowel cancer.

However, bowel screening is not right for everyone. You should not take part if you:

have symptoms of bowel cancer
have had a colonoscopy within the last five years
are on a bowel polyp or bowel cancer surveillance programme
have had, or are currently being treated for, bowel cancer
have had your large bowel removed
have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease that is currently active
are seeing your doctor about bowel problems.

If you have symptoms of bowel cancer (bleeding in your bowel motion or a change to your bowel habits that continues for several weeks), talk to your doctor.

Disability information

If you have any disability, illness or injury which may prevent you from doing the test or sending in your sample please contact us and we can discuss a solution with you.

You can call us on 0800 924 432. If you have hearing difficulties fax us on 09 484 0202 or email

If you don’t want to take part

If you do not want to take part in bowel screening, please call us on freephone 0800 924 432 and let us know.

Protecting your privacy

Information on any further assessment or treatment you may have will be collected from and disclosed to both public and private health services to assist in managing your health care, and to monitor and evaluate the National Bowel Screening Programme.

Personal information and data are collected, held, accessed and destroyed in accordance with the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 and the Health Act 1956.

Below is the national brochures in different lanaguages.