Doing the bowel screening test
If you’re eligible for free bowel screening, your DHB will send you a test kit, instructions on how to use it, and a consent form.
The free test is quick, clean and simple to do. You do it by yourself at home.
The test is part of the National Bowel Screening Programme that is being rolled out across New Zealand.
How to do the test
To do the test, you need to:
- collect a small sample from your bowel motion (poo) using the test stick, and put it into the tube
- put the sample tube in the zip-lock bag provided, along with the signed and completed consent form
- post it as soon as possible in the reply-paid envelope provided.
Do the test as soon as possible. You need to return your test kit within six months of receiving it or the laboratory won’t be able to process it. The laboratory can’t process tests which have passed their expiry date.
Keep the sample in a cool place until you post it. It does not need to be kept in the fridge. To prevent any postal delays, it’s best not to send it on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
About the screening test
We use a test called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT). This test can detect tiny traces of blood present in a small sample of your bowel motion (poo) – which may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your bowel. You do the test yourself in your own home.
Who should do the test?
Most people aged 60 to 74 years can do the bowel screening test. This includes people who are at increased risk of bowel cancer.
However, bowel screening is not right for everyone. You should not take part if you:
- have symptoms of bowel cancer
- have had a colonoscopy within the last five years
- are on a bowel polyp or bowel cancer surveillance programme
- have had, or are currently being treated for, bowel cancer
- have had your large bowel removed
- have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease that is currently active
- are seeing your doctor about bowel problems.
If you have symptoms of bowel cancer (bleeding in your bowel motion or a change to your bowel habits that continues for several weeks), talk to your doctor.
If you have any disability, illness or injury which may prevent you from doing the test or sending in your sample please contact us and we can discuss a solution with you.
If you don’t want to take part
If you do not want to take part in bowel screening, please call us on freephone 0800 924 432 and let us know.