A bowel screening programme is being rolled out in Canterbury today.
Free bowel screening kits will be sent to the homes of Canterbury people aged 60 to 74 from mid-November.
About 90 thousand people will take part during the first two years.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world and 1200 people die from this disease each year.
Canterbury DHB acting CEO Dr Andrew Brant said the tests should lead to one thousand pre-cancerous growths found and removed in the first year.
South Canterbury was added to the nationwide programme earlier this week.
Under the programme, those in the age group with a birthday on an even date will receive a test kit on or near their birthday.
People with odd-date birthdays will receive their test kit during the second year of the programme.
The test kit itself is about the size of a large USB stick, is easy to use and comes with clear instructions.
It is designed to pick up tiny traces of blood in your faeces and to catch cancers before they become advanced and more difficult to treat.
Local GP and Canterbury NBSP Primary Care Lead Dr Sue Levin said it's important to be clear that anyone with concerning symptoms such as sustained, unusual bowel movements or blood in their faeces should seek advice from their General Practice team.
"Whānau and friends also have an important part to play - in supporting and encouraging people to participate in the programme."
Since it began in New Zealand just over three years ago, the programme has screened more than quarter of a million people and detected more than 700 cancers early enough for successful treatment in 90 percent of cases