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a formidable adversary to human health, presents a unique challenge due to its ability to progress silently.

In the absence of overt symptoms, early detection becomes a pivotal weapon in the fight against this complex set of diseases.

This is where cancer screening emerges as a crucial and proactive strategy.

In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the significance of cancer screening, understanding its importance in the realm of preventive healthcare.


The Silent Onset of Cancer

Understanding the Stealth Nature of Cancer

Cancer is a broad term used to describe a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.

These cells, often referred to as cancer cells, can invade and destroy surrounding tissues and may also spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.


Key Characteristics of Cancer:

  1. Uncontrolled Cell Growth
  2. Formation of Tumors
  3. Invasion and Metastasis

Causes of Cancer:


  1. Genetic Factors
  2. Environmental Factors
  3. Lifestyle Choices
  4. Infections
  5. Age
  6. Hormones 

types of cancer - Cancer Screening:  Why It Is Important

Types of Cancer:


There are over 100 different types of cancer, and they can affect virtually any part of the body.
Common types of cancer include:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Skin Cancer (Melanoma and Non-Melanoma)
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer 

Diagnosis and Treatment:


  1. Diagnosis:
  • Cancer diagnosis often involves a combination of physical examinations, imaging tests (such as X-rays and CT scans), laboratory tests, and sometimes, a biopsy to examine tissue samples.
  1. Treatment:
  • Cancer treatment varies depending on the type, stage, and location of the cancer. Common treatment modalities include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. 

cancer diagnosis treatment - Cancer Screening:  Why It Is Important

Prevention and Screening:


Healthy Lifestyle:

  • Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol, can contribute to cancer prevention.


  • Vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine, can help prevent infections associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

Screening Programs:

  • Routine screening tests, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and Pap smears, can help detect cancer at an early, more treatable stage.

While cancer is a formidable health challenge, advances in research and medical technology have led to improved outcomes for many individuals diagnosed with cancer.

Early detection, prevention strategies, and ongoing research efforts are critical in the global fight against cancer.

cancer screening Schneider - Cancer Screening:  Why It Is Important


The Critical Need for Early Detection


Early detection of cancer dramatically improves treatment outcomes.

By identifying cancer at its inception, healthcare professionals can intervene at a stage when treatment is more likely to be successful and less invasive.


Proactive Health Measures: The Role of Cancer



Shifting from Reactive to Proactive Healthcare

Cancer screening represents a paradigm shift from reactive healthcare to a proactive model.

Instead of waiting for symptoms to manifest, individuals undergo routine checks to catch potential issues before they become serious.


Targeted Detection for Specific Cancers


Different screening methods are tailored to detect specific types of cancer, enabling a more targeted and effective approach.

From mammograms for breast cancer to colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, each screening method is designed to address the nuances of a particular cancer type.


Impact on Treatment Outcomes


The Transformative Power of Early Intervention

Early detection allows for less aggressive and more effective treatment options. From surgery to chemotherapy, the arsenal of treatments is more impactful when cancer is caught in its infancy.


Reducing Mortality Rates


Screening has been instrumental in reducing mortality rates associated with various cancers.

Statistical data and success stories underscore the direct correlation between routine screenings and increased survival rates.


Types of Cancer Screening


Colorectal Cancer Screening: Preventing Progression

Colonoscopy as a Diagnostic Powerhouse

  • A comprehensive examination of the colon.
  • The significance of polyp detection and removal.

Non-Invasive Alternatives: FOBT and FIT Tests

  • The role of fecal occult blood tests in routine screening.
  • The practicality and effectiveness of non-invasive tests.

cancer screening colonoscopy - Cancer Screening:  Why It Is Important

More About a Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is a medical procedure that involves the examination of the inside of the colon and rectum using a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end called a colonoscope.

This procedure is a key tool in the detection and prevention of colorectal cancer, as well as the diagnosis and management of various gastrointestinal conditions.

Key Components of a Colonoscopy:


  1. Colonoscope:
  • A colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera attached to its end. It is carefully inserted into the rectum and moved through the entire colon.
  1. Light Source:
  • The colonoscope is equipped with a light source that illuminates the inside of the colon, allowing the camera to capture clear images.
  1. Camera:
  • The camera at the end of the colonoscope captures high-definition images of the colon’s lining. These images are transmitted to a monitor, enabling the physician to examine the colon in detail.


Procedure Steps:


  1. Preparation:
  • Before a colonoscopy, the patient needs to undergo a thorough bowel preparation. This often involves taking a laxative and following a special diet to ensure that the colon is empty, and the physician has a clear view.
  1. Sedation:
  • Colonoscopies are usually performed with the patient under sedation to ensure comfort and relaxation during the procedure.
  1. Insertion of Colonoscope:
  • The colonoscope is gently inserted into the rectum and gradually advanced through the entire colon. The physician carefully examines the colon’s lining on the monitor.
  1. Biopsy or Polyp Removal:
  • If any abnormalities, such as polyps, are detected, the physician may perform a biopsy or remove them during the procedure. This is done to assess whether the abnormality is cancerous or pre-cancerous.
  1. Air Insufflation:
  • To get a better view of the colon’s lining, air may be gently pumped into the colon during the procedure. This can cause temporary bloating or discomfort.
  1. Withdrawal of Colonoscope:
  • After a thorough examination, the colonoscope is slowly withdrawn. The physician carefully examines the colon once again during this withdrawal phase. 

Indications for Colonoscopy:


Colorectal Cancer Screening:

  • Routine colonoscopies are a primary method for screening and preventing colorectal cancer.

Diagnostic Evaluation:

  • Colonoscopies are used to investigate symptoms such as abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, bleeding, or unexplained weight loss.

Polyp Detection and Removal:

  • Polyps, small growths on the colon’s lining, can be detected and removed during a colonoscopy. This is significant because some polyps can progress to cancer over time. 

colorectal cancer screening - Cancer Screening:  Why It Is Important

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD):

Unexplained Anemia:


  • If a patient has unexplained anemia, a colonoscopy may be performed to investigate potential sources of bleeding in the colon.

Benefits of Colonoscopy:


  1. Early Detection of Cancer
  2. Polyp Removal
  3. Diagnostic Accuracy
  4. Preventive Screening




Cancer screening is not just a medical procedure; it is a transformative force shaping the future of healthcare.

Dr. Schneider is located at the Mill Park Hospital, Parktown, Johannesburg.

Services offered include consultation, and endoscopy procedures, including gastroscopy, colonoscopy and video capsule endoscopy.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of gluten intolerance in Johannesburg, contact Dr. Schneider or book your consultation today.



The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self-diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a Gastroenterologist or medical doctor regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs including, but not limited to: abdominal pain, haemorrhoids or anal / rectal bleeding as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a physician or call our office today and schedule a consultation.