Screening Programme has potentially saved the lives of at least 11 Central Otago residents.
As of July 30, 589 kits were sent to people across Central Otago and, of those, 2% returned a positive result.
Southern District Health Board bowel screening programme communications adviser Anna Dorsey said all those people had been offered further investigation through a colonoscopy.
She said of the kits sent in April and May, 65% had been returned, which was above the national participation rate target of 62%.
Just four months have passed since the screening programme was launched in the Southern district, where more than 5000 home test kits had been sent out.
Of those, more than 2200 had been returned showing a negative result, which meant “peace of mind” for those people and their families.
A further 141 tests had come back positive, including the estimated 11 in Central Otago.
That positive result meant there was a “presence of blood”, an indication of “potential” bowel cancer.
So far, 35 Southern residents have had colonoscopies as a result of the screening programme.
A report recently showed some of those tests found cases of pre-cancerous polyps, which were subsequently removed.
There has been one confirmed case of bowel cancer, which the patient was receiving treatment for.
Programme clinical leader Dr Jason Hill said although it was early days, preliminary results for the first few months of the programme were tracking well, in terms of participation targets.
He said the increasing demand for colonoscopies as a result of the bowel screening programme had not increased waiting times for those who were outside of the programme.
“Thanks to the opening of our new gastroenterology department, and the team’s hard work, we are able to see more patients needing colonoscopy within the recommended time-frame, which is two weeks for urgent cases and six weeks for non-urgent cases.”