Bowel Cancer Atlas

The Bowel Cancer Atlas domain presents access, quality and outcome indicators across District Health Boards and Regional Cancer Network regions for people diagnosed with bowel cancer (adenocarcinoma of the colon or rectum).

Bowel cancer is New Zealand’s cancer

Around 3,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year. Approximately 1,200 Kiwis will lose their lives to the disease, as many as breast and prostate cancer combined.

New Zealand is one of the world leaders when it comes to bowel cancer diagnoses. We would rather lead the world in finding ways to stop bowel cancer and improving outcomes for patients.

The aim of the Atlas is to explore any wide variations between DHBs in the incidence, treatment, and where possible, outcomes in particular disease areas. The findings are intended to raise questions about why differences exist, to encourage debate and promote innovative solutions for improvement.

Such debate can trigger local action to determine the causes for variation and, if appropriate, help to initiate local activities to improve quality of care, accessibility to health services, and ensure equitable outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Click here to access the Bowel Cancer Atlas.

Bowel Cancer NZ map

A summary of the Atlas

  • 23% of people had localised disease spread, and 21% had distant disease spread at the time of their bowel cancer diagnosis. About 25% of people with bowel cancer were diagnosed following a visit to an emergency department (ED).
  • Two-thirds of people with bowel cancer had surgery in a public hospital.
  • On average people stayed in a public hospital for 10 days after surgery.
  • 5% of people died within three months of surgery in public hospitals.
  • More than two-thirds of people were alive two years after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
  • There was wide variation between DHBs in the use of radiotherapy before surgery for people with rectal cancer
  • There was up to two-fold variation between DHBs for:
    • mortality at three months after surgery
    • surgery which usually results in a permanent colostomy for people with rectal cancer
  • Many of the indicators showed variation between ethnic groups and/or age groups. There was wide variation between DHBs for presentation rates at an emergency department (ED) prior to bowel cancer diagnosis for Māori. 

Atlas key findings
Click here to read more detailed information on the key findings from this Atlas.