Screening for Cancer
Dr Danie Schneider
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Somerset West

Screening for Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which certain cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named after the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other parts of the body later. The most common types of cancer in women are cervical cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, uterine cancer and colorectal cancer.

Did you know?

Cancer survivors largely consist of people over 60 years old and most are female.

The largest group of cancer survivors are breast cancer survivors. Cervical cancer is the only gynaecological cancer that has a recommended screening test. The Pap test also helps to prevent cervical cancer by finding precancers, which are cell changes in the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

Gynaecologists are the only healthcare providers that are experts in doing these screening tests and in interpreting your result. We can also remove the abnormal cells if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to prevent cancer?

During your annual well-women check-up with Dr Schneider you will be screened for cancer by means of, firstly, an in-depth personal and family history. We will also have a discussion about the screening tests applicable to you, with the aim to find the best balance between early detection and reassurance for your specific risks and worries. Tests for breast, cervical and colon cancer will be included, as well as a consideration of the suitability of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cancer.

You should also stop smoking and limit your exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke. Protect your skin from the sun and avoid sun lamps at tanning salons. Adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

If you have vaginal bleeding that is unusual for you, make an appointment right away. If you notice any other unexplained signs or symptoms that last two weeks or longer, schedule an appointment. Remember that when gynaecological cancers are found and treated early, treatment works best.

Why is cervical cancer screening important?

It usually takes between three and seven years for high-grade changes in cervical cells to become cancer. Cervical cancer screening aims to detect these changes before they become cancer. During your annual check-up, Dr Schneider will discuss the tests available and find the most appropriate test for your specific history and age group. This could include a Pap test as well as an HPV test and a colposcopy. A gynaecologist is the only health care provider trained to identify, as well as remove abnormal cells from the cervix with minor surgery done as a day case.