Since cancer is such a common disease, it’s no surprise that families have at least a few members who’ve battled or are battling some type of cancer. Hereditary cancer requires immediate attention, so you should know signs to be on the lookout for. Have there been any early occurrences (<50 yo) of cancer in any of your family members? Have there been multiple cases of cancer in your family’s history?
Why should you know your family’s cancer history so well? If there are early, multiple or rare breast cancers in the family, you may be at an increased cancer risk and may warrant an annual mammogram, MRI and hereditary cancer testing. Similarly, if there are early, multiple or rare colon cancers in the family, you may face a heightened cancer risk and may warrant hereditary cancer testing and colonoscopies before the age of 50 at a frequency of more than once every ten years.
People with hereditary cancer risk have an even greater need for cancer screening. The risk of hereditary cancer can be passed down through generations on both sides of the family. Cancer family history impacts medical recommendations, and so it is vitally important in providing patients’ optimal care.
Be proactive! Talk to your provider about cancer family history and hereditary cancers. For more information, take a look at the infographic below.