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Issues with self-purchased Faecal Occult Blood Test kits

Increasing awareness of bowel screening has led to a spike in sales of self-purchased FOBT kits.

Green Cross (the pharmacy chain supplying the kits) reported an increase from the average sales of 100 per month to 300 per month during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (1-30 June).

The expectation is that asymptomatic individuals, who get a positive result from a self-purchased kit, are entitled to further investigation through the public health system - but this is not the case.

The issue of self-funded kits has been publicised by Radio New Zealand, so you may well hear from patients about it.

The key messages from the National Screening Unit to patients are:

  • The Ministry doesn't endorse or encourage the use of FOBT kits outside the National Bowel Screening Programme
  • If you have symptoms such as blood in your poo or a change in your bowel habit that persists, you should talk to your GP
  • If you have any concerns about your bowel health, it is best to talk to your GP
  • If you have a family history of bowel cancer you may be referred for surveillance colonoscopy or to the familial gastrointestinal cancer service
  • A positive result from an FOBT kit can be caused by other conditions, besides bowel cancer. For every 50 people who have a positive result, as part of the national bowel screening programme, an average of 3 or 4 will be found to have cancer.

 

You can read more of their statement on the topic here.

 


Last updated : Thursday, August 30, 2018

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