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Improvements in screening programmes

Getting screening tests regularly may find breast, cervical, and bowel cancers early when treatment is likely to work best.
But we must offer equitable programmes that keep ahead of advances in screening.

The Cancer Society is advocating for New Zealanders to have equitable access to gold-standard screening programmes. This means:

Lower the age for bowel screening to 50 years

The Bowel screening programme is currently being rolled out across Aotearoa New Zealand for people aged between 60-74 years. Comparative countries such as Canada, UK and Australia all begin bowel screening 10 years earlier, at age 50 - an age when the risk of bowel cancer begins to rise steeply.

Priority should be given to Māori and Pacific peoples because a higher proportion of cases are diagnosed in younger age groups.

We are urging the Government to commit to a date for lowering the starting age for screening to 50 years old. Bowel screening from 50 years old will ensure we have the best programme possible. 

Introduce HPV screening to replace the current cervical cytology programme

This test is safe and even more effective than the current cervical test and will help Aotearoa New Zealand accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer. 
This would mean people with a cervix can take their own HPV test in the privacy of their home or where they feel most comfortable. Māori women face inequitable rates of cervical cancer. The HPV self-test has been found to increase uptake among wahine Māori and other under-screened groups.

The Government has agreed to implement an HPV screening programme in 2023. We are eager to see this come through as they have previously committed to an implementation date in the past but have since delayed, so we will be watching closely to ensure this happens. 

The Cancer Society supports the World Health Organisation's global goal of eliminating cervical cancer through HPV screening, vaccination and treatment. For the first time, we have the evidence and technology to eliminate a major cancer.
The HPV self-test swab
The HPV self-test swab
The HPV self-test swab