Sigmoidoscopy is nothing but a distraction
Bowel Cancer New Zealand believes screening using sigmoidoscopy is a distraction from the pressing need for a national
Bowel Cancer New Zealand (BCNZ) spokesperson Mary Bradley says “New Zealand is far behind other OECD countries in
implementing a bowel screening programme, the last thing we need to do is further delay things by changing direction
The Ministry of Health has taken extensive advice on this issue and the balance of evidence, international opinion, and
cost-effectiveness favour faecal immunochemical test(FIT) screening. Sigmoidoscopy misses a third of cancers unable to
be viewed by the sigmoidoscope.
Bowel Cancer New Zealand’s concern now is that the demonstrable success of the Waitemata DHB pilot of FIT is made
available to all New Zealanders by rolling out that programme nationally.
“We see no reason to back up the bus and start from scratch. The government needs to get on with implementing a national
screening programme now; 1200 New Zealander's continue to die of bowel cancer every year they delay,” says Bradley.
BCNZ encourages open discussion about bowel cancer with medical professionals and avoiding ‘sitting on your symptoms’.
• Bleeding from the bottom or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel motion;
• Change of bowel motions over several weeks without returning to normal;
• Persistent or periodic severe pain the abdomen;
• A lump or mass in the abdomen;
• Tiredness and loss of weight for no particular reason;
Those who don’t live in the Waitemata DHB area or have symptoms or a family history of bowel cancer and want to do
regular checks can talk to their GP or buy a commercially available bowel screening kit, which involves the family
doctor, at Life or Unichem pharmacies.
More information on bowel cancer and BCNZ can be found at