February 4, 2024

Media Release Bowel Cancer NZ

This year, on World Cancer Day, Bowel Cancer NZ calls on the government to prioritise bowel cancer detection and act on their election promise to lower the screening age to 45.

Professor Frank Frizelle, a Bowel Cancer NZ medical advisor, says, “It is disappointing to see no mention in National’s 100-day plan to lower the bowel screening age. This is concerning as the incidence in bowel cancer is dramatically increasing in the young population, and lowering the screening age will save lives.”

Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in our country and is usually curable if caught early. Screening is an effective way of doing this. The rising incidence of this disease in younger people makes it an action that should have been included in the government’s 100-day plan. Their manifesto promised, “National will immediately commission work on a business case for progressively lowering the bowel cancer screening age to 50.”

Professor Frizelle says, “At the very least, Bowel Cancer NZ expects to see the bowel screening rollout accelerated for all Māori and Pasifika from age 50 to avoid further inequities. In the meantime, a clear fiscal and workforce plan must be developed urgently to lower the age to 45 years for all Kiwis.”

When Doug White was first diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer at age 54, he thought, “Why me? How can this happen? I am fit and healthy. There were no real symptoms and nothing in the family.

“My tumour was quite a big one, and it had been sitting there for a couple of years. That’s why I want to see the screening age lowered because it would’ve picked my cancer up earlier, and I may not have needed treatment.”

Doug is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation and says, “It affected (my family) greatly, but we try to live a normal life as much as possible, take it day by day and not let the big C word become the main topic in the house.”

This World Cancer Day, we want to ensure our political leaders understand that the New Zealand public wants to see them prioritise cancer and stand by their election promise to lower the bowel screening age.