The Whanganui District Health Board's bowel cancer screening programme discovers a person with cancer on average once every month.
With the programme nearing its second anniversary, the DHB is reminding residents of the importance of testing for the disease, which is the country's second most deadly form of cancer, claiming 1200 lives a year.
The screening programme is for anyone aged 60 to 74 years and involves a simple test done at home using a kit that arrives in the post.
The test aims to pick up bowel cancer early or detect changes that could lead to bowel cancer. It detects minute traces of blood in a sample of faeces which can be an early warning sign for bowel cancer.
The sample should be posted off within seven days of the test, and it is then checked at the laboratory.
People are notified if further investigation is required, which is typically done through a colonoscopy. Like the test, follow-up investigation and treatment is free.
Bowel cancer is treatable if picked up early. People diagnosed with early-stage bowel cancer who receive treatment early have a 90 per cent chance of long-term survival.
Whanganui was the ninth DHB in the country to launch a DIY bowel screening programme in 2019, and has seen significant uptake across the wider region.
Bowel screening co-ordinator Judy McIntyre said even under lockdown conditions, the screening programme was going well.
"We continue to have good participation rates for our region and we are still diagnosing cancers through the programme.
"So we encourage anyone who has received a kit but hasn't yet completed it, to do so."
Whanganui GP John McMenamin, the Ministry of Health's bowel screening lead for primary care, said screening was fundamental in picking it up early.
"There may be no warning that you have bowel cancer, so doing the bowel screening test is an easy way to identify that something might be wrong.
"I encourage all patients in the 60-74 year age group to complete their kit when it arrives in the mail."