Investigating your family history for breast cancer and other diseases that could be hereditary is a vital way to reduce your risk. But just knowing you’re at risk is not enough to help. Talking with your doctor about ways to help mitigate your risk factor is the most important step. Otherwise, you might not be able to maximize your efforts and take action before something happens.
How To Investigate Your Family History
Talk to all of your family members from both sides of your family (siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) about any conditions they have or had, especially the serious ones. Write down whether they have had heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Be sure to also ask them about any relatives that have passed away to try and learn the cause and age of each death. If you aren’t sure how to organize it, check out some of the free online tools available for tracking family history.
If you have had any of these conditions, write it down too, and then make sure you share this information. The more your family is aware of their predispositions, the more they can work to prevent them from developing. Especially with cancer, the earlier you can reduce your risk, the more effective it will be in the long run.
What To Do With The Information
Once you are aware of your family history, work with your doctor to determine if there are any next steps you can take to help mitigate your risk. If you have a history of breast cancer, you might want to start mammography screening earlier. You might be able to take drugs that reduce your risk or have genetic testing done to see if you carry some of the genes associated with cancer. It might be as simple as changing your diet or exercising more, but knowing what your family history is and how you can avoid hereditary diseases could make the difference.