Risk Assessment

Knowing more about your hereditary traits is the first step towards prevention.

Click below to take a Genetic History test at myGeneHistory.

There are eight types of cancer that are currently known to be hereditary, meaning they run in families: Breast, Ovarian, Colon, Uterine, Gastric, Pancreatic, Melanoma and Prostate cancers. Knowing more about family or personal history of cancer may help individuals know if they have an increased risk of developing one of these hereditary cancers. Both men and women can carry this increased risk.

What is family history of cancer?

Your family medical history is a record of diseases and conditions that run in your family, especially among close relatives. A family history of breast, ovarian, colon, uterine, gastric, pancreatic, melanoma and prostate cancers can increase an individual’s risk for developing these cancers.

It is also important to realize that men can pass a gene to a daughter for breast or ovarian cancer and women can pass a gene to a son increasing their risk for prostate cancer.

What can family history tell me about my risk?

Knowing your family history helps provide clues about your chances of getting cancer. You may share similar genes, habits, and environments that can affect your cancer risk. Telling your healthcare provider your family history is important. lt will also guide you and your healthcare provider in deciding what tests you need, when to start, and how often to be tested. Knowing your family history also helps you and your healthcare provider decide if genetic counseling or testing may be right for you. While genetic counseling and testing are not recommended for all individuals, it is important for all individuals to know their family history.

What if cancer does not run in my family?

Individuals with no family history may still get cancer. You are considered to be at average risk of developing hereditary cancers if you do not have a family history of these cancers. So you should get screened regularly for breast, uterine, ovarian, prostate, skin and colorectal cancers. Knowing your farily history will help you and your healthcare provider make decisions about when and how often to get screened.

What kind of information do I need to collect?

As you work through your own Family History, you’re aiming for complete information. Gather information about your Father and Mother’s side of the family going back three generations: 

  • Parents, Grandparents Great Grandparents, Brothers and Sisters  and Children  
  • Aunts and Uncles 
  • Nieces and Nephews Cousins 
  • Great Aunts and Uncles
 

Information should include:

  • Who had cancer and what kind
  • Approximate age when diagnosed
  • Are they still living? If not, at what age did they die and what was their cause of death? More information is better, but gaps are o.k.
  • Do your best to capture everything you can.
  • It is especially important to know if you have any family member with ovarian, pancreatic, or metastatic prostate cancer 
  • It is also important to know if you have any relative under the age of 50 diagnosed with breast or colorectal cancer.

What should I do if cancer runs in my family?

  • Knowing your family history and telling your healthcare provider about it is the first step in helping you understand your chances of developing cancer.
  • Participating in a cancer risk assessment can help determine if you need additional testing.
  • A cancer risk assessment utilizes a series of questions about family history and individual risk factors and applies sophisticated cancer risk models to determine your risk.
  • If you have an elevated risk for a hereditary or familial cancer, you may benefit from genetic counseling and testing to find out if you have a genetic mutation that affects your cancer risk.