Around 12,000 South Canterbury residents will be eligible for free bowel screening shortly when they join the country's free National Bowel Screening Programme.

The region has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in New Zealand with 113 cancers detected per 100,000 people compared to a national average of 65.7.

This will be the 12th DHB to join the programme which was originally due to go live in June 2020 but was pushed back.

Home testing kits will be sent to eligible residents between the ages of 60-74 years old over the next two years, around 12,000 people will be invited to complete a home testing kit that can detect treatable early signs of the disease.

The National Bowel Screening Programme will now available in 12 district health boards with Canterbury DHB the next to launch.

If you would like more information on the free National Bowel Screening Programme (Time to Screen) click here.