With the Southern District Healthboard already working on their processes in the last five years, they are now a little bit further ahead in terms of being able to provide a screening programme.

Dunedin Hospital department of gastroenterology clinical leader Jason Hill said the delay would not affect the rollout in the southern region, with resources and procedures in place to support the programme’s introduction in April.

The programme will offer eligible patients a free screening every two years, with a faecal immunochemical test forming the first part of the process.

Hill said the programme was the single most important intervention that could be offered to reduce the burden of bowel cancer in the region’s population over the next 20 years.

“We have quite a unique position in screening that that we can identify polyps before they become cancerous rather than looking for cancer itself,” he said.

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