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The Importance of Researching Your Family Health History

08 Jul 2016 by Krystal Barter
The Importance of Researching Your Family Health History

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A family history of disease can give health care professionals clues about the possibility a hereditary condition in your family increases your personal risk of disease.

Knowing about the health of your family members and telling your local doctor your family health history information is important. Your local doctor can use the information you provide to assess whether your family health history may have an impact on your risk of disease and whether you need any additional check ups.

Ask Your Relatives About Their Health
Although asking about health information can require a sensitive and respectful approach, knowing about your family health history can be important for you as well as other close family members.

The health of your first and second degree relatives is important because the closer a relative is to you the larger amounts of common genetic information you can share.

First degree relatives are your parents, children, brother and sisters.

Second degree relatives are your aunts/uncles, grandparents (on both sides of your family) nieces and nephews.

Document Your Family Health History
Pink Hope has many resources to help these include; a Family History Tree, to help map your family history, and Kiss and Tell, resource to help guide you with what questions to ask your family. Once you have documented your family health history, take it to your local doctor for advice.

Anything is worth noting about your family health history. You should tell your doctor about any relatives with a known hereditary condition (no matter how closely they are related to you), any family history of cancer or tumours, heart disease, diabetes, anyone who has died at a young age and the reason why, anyone in your family that has had a medical condition that is rare or has affected relatives at a younger age than is usually expected. Don’t worry if you are unsure whether the information is important or not, your local doctor will know what to take note of.

If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and no personal history of cancer, you can use the Pink Hope Know Your Risk tool. The tool will ask questions about your family history of breast or ovarian cancer and give you advice about your risk and whether you need to speak to your local doctor or obtain a referral to a Familial Cancer Clinic.

Regularly Update Your Family Health History
Health histories can change therefore, it is important to regularly review your family health history and report any changes to your local doctor.

Tip: Update your family health history with your GP when you see them for a routine check up or screening test such as a pap smear or prescription renewal.

Ask a Genetic Counsellor
Pink Hope has an online Genetic Counsellor that can help you with any questions or concerns about your health or your family health history.

If you unsure whether to see your doctor or you have a question about your family history you can ask our Pink Hope Genetic Counsellor. Click here to send your question now.

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