May is National Bowel Screening Month

The National Bowel Screening Programme is a free programme to help detect bowel cancer.

It is being offered every two years to people aged 60 to 74 years who are eligible for publicly funded health care. Information on who is eligible for publicly funded health services is available on Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand’s website or by phoning 0800 924 432 or email

If you are eligible to take part, you will be sent:

  • an invitation letter
  • a consent form
  • a free bowel screening test kit, with instructions on how to use it.

The test can be done at home and is simple to do. Find out more at Doing the test.

You will be invited to take part in free bowel screening unless you tell us you don’t want to. You can opt out by calling freephone 0800 924 432 or email 

Screening tests can find bowel cancer early.

Bowel screening every two years can help save lives by finding bowel cancer at an early stage, when it can often be successfully treated.

There may be no warning signs that you have bowel cancer.

Further investigation can also detect polyps (growths). These are not cancer, but they may develop into a cancer over a number of years. Most polyps can be easily removed, reducing the risk that bowel cancer will develop.

If you develop any symptoms of bowel cancer, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Find out more at About bowel cancer.

Preventing bowel cancer

There is no certain way to prevent bowel cancer, but there are some things that can increase or reduce your risk. Find out more at Can bowel cancer be prevented?