BUDGET 2016: Bowel cancer screening

The national budget announced today reveals an investement in a national bowel screening programme:

Budget 2016Budget 2016 invests $39.3 million over four years for national bowel screening – starting with Hutt Valley and Wairarapa DHBs. This will be followed by a progressive roll-out across the country.

The SMC collected the following commentary.

Associate Professor Brian Cox, Director of the Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Otago, comments:

“The government continues to pursue the second rate, and very expensive, 2-yearly faecal occult blood screening test when a much less expensive once-in-a-lifetime flexible sigmoidoscopy programme achieves a greater reduction in bowel cancer incidence (33% in those screened) and mortality (43% in those screened).

“The continuing failure to implement flexible sigmoidoscopy screening is failure to introduce best public health practice for bowel screening and unnecessary and avoidable bowel cancer.

“Any regional introduction of bowel screening should begin in those areas of the country that have a long history of having significantly high rates of the disease, namely, the southern part of the South Island. “