Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel Screening Kits

The NZ Free National Bowel Screening Programme will be rolled out progressively throughout New Zealand across all District Health Boards (DHB) before 2021 with the expected dates listed here. The programme is only for 60-74-year-olds and is expected to detect between 500-700 bowel cancers a year.

This age group accounts for only approximately 36% of all bowel cancers registered in New Zealand annually. If you are lucky enough to be sent a free screening kit, please use it. There are a number of people who really want one and aren't able to receive a free kit. This test could save your life as there are not always symptoms present.

Remember 90% of bowel cancer is treatable and preventable if you catch it early enough.

​If you are worried about your bowel health, are over the age of 74 or under the age of 60, your DHB catchment area has yet to roll out the free bowel screening programme and you would like a bowel screening kit, a home bowel screening kit can be purchased privately in most Pharmacies over the counter or online. This home-based screening kit is part of Bowel Screen AotearoaTM by Green Cross Health.

Green Cross Health is the parent company that owns a large number of pharmacies in New Zealand. The home-based bowel screening kits are provided to Green Cross Health, with the support of Clinical Genomics - ColoVantage (Australian manufacturer and accredited pathology laboratory for the InSure® immunochemical test).

Bowel Screen AotearoaTM, uses a clinically proven, sensitive and reliable immunochemical faecal occult blood test with each kit costing around $60.

The test is different from the National Screening Programme which requires a Faecal sample. This test is taken in the privacy of your own home where two separate toilet water samples are collected by you at different times, that surrounds your poo, and is then brushed on to the screening pad provided along with a pre-paid envelope.

The samples have to be sent in the pre-paid envelope to arrive at the Australian lab for analysis within 14 days or you may be required to provide another sample. Specialists will analyse the samples and send results to the Doctor you list on the form which is also provided within the kit.

Have a look at this quick 4-minute video to see how to use the Bowel Screening Kit:

Please involve your Doctor throughout this process as you need one point of contact for your health history, follow-ups and results.

If your doctor is unaware of any private tests they cannot help to monitor your health at all times and follow up on your behalf.

It can take up to 3 weeks for the results to come back so please be patient. We do not currently have dedicated labs in NZ to test the kits as any available have been reserved for the Governments Free Bowel Screening Programme.

Screening Kit Results

In 2017 Green Cross Health reported 5% of the tests were returned with a positive result requiring further investigation through colonoscopy. Within just 9 months of 2018, this figure jumped to 18%

​This would suggest more people are becoming aware of the kits and are becoming more proactive looking after their bowel health.​

If your results are positive this does not necessarily mean bowel cancer has been detected.

Only a small amount of the positive results turn out to be bowel cancer and the earlier we catch it the more treatable and curable it will become.

The bleeding can indicate internal issues such as bleeding polyps, inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or Coeliac Disease or haemorrhoids. You may have even eaten something that has scratched you internally on the way down.

New Zealand has the third-worst rate of inflammatory bowel disease in the world and it is growing at an alarming rate.

A new study has found that as many as 28,000 Kiwis are currently living with the disease which equates to one in every 68 people, and it's symptoms can mirror a number of bowel cancer ones which can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rectal bleeding and weight loss.

So for this reason, if you know you have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease the test will come back positive for blood. You should be under the care of your Doctor for this ailment so please ask your doctor for further advice before taking this test

If you have received a positive result from your bowel screening kit a follow-up colonoscopy will be required to further investigate what caused the bleeding.

​Some Doctors may put you on the colonoscopy waiting list through your local DHB if they feel you have enough symptoms to qualify for further investigation. If not, some insurance companies may pay for a follow-up colonoscopy procedure which can cost anywhere between $1500-2800 if paid for privately.

If you are unable to continue further investigations with a colonoscopy due to the following two reasons, contact your insurance provider, they may be able to help with further options.

  1. Your Doctor not putting you forward to your local DHB because of lack of bowel cancer 'symptoms' (Remember, not every patient will present with standard symptoms. Read Pam's story here).
  2. Your DHB rejecting your Doctors request for colonoscopy because you do not fit current criteria (You are under government screening age, don't have enough symptoms, your DHB is not currently ready to roll out the free screening programme)

Annual home-based bowel cancer screening is recommended by Bowel Cancer Foundation Trust for both men and women...

  1. At any age who are worried about their bowel health
  2. With no symptoms
  3. With no personal or family history of bowel cancer or polyps

The aim of screening is to find any polyps before they turn in to bowel cancer or to find cancer early when it is easier to treat and cure.

We hope at the very least screening can provide peace of mind and give you a base in which to monitor your bowel health as you progress through life.

People experiencing symptoms or who have a personal/family history of bowel cancer or polyps are advised to also discuss appropriate screening for the disease with their Doctor.

Bowel Cancer Foundation Trust is here to help you through your journey and help make a difference in your life.

Charity Achievements

Key Milestones reached by Bowel Cancer Foundation Trust team.


Dollars distributed to help fund vital research and providing better patient outcomes


Bowel cancer survivors rehabilitated after gruelling treatment helping to reduce cancer re-occurrence


Bowel screening kits provided to Kiwi’s who do not qualify for free public screening to detect bowel cancer early


Loving families kept together for longer with help for immunotherapy treatments that help reduce tumours