November 25th, which is Thanksgiving Day this year, is also National Family Health History Day. Knowing your family health history is very important and allows you to take the proactive measures needed for your personal health. When it come to breast health, this is especially true when it comes to any genetic mutations. Our surgeons implore you on this day and every day, to become more aware of your family history and educate yourself on preventative measures should you have a family history of breast cancer.
You can help your doctor decide on the best screening and genetic testing protocol by supplying an accurate family health history. Breast Cancer is an example of how this is true. If a woman carries the Breast Cancer gene, not only does she have a markedly increased risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, but she can pass this gene, with its associated risks to her children.
A woman with a first-degree female relative with breast cancer (Sister, mother, daughter) has double the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. If 2 first-degree relatives have been diagnosed with breast cancer, that woman’s risk is 5 times higher than the average woman. With family health history knowledge, proper screening and testing can be implemented. Cancer prevented is even better than cancer cured!
Family health history can allow other types of cancer and potentially life-threatening diseases to be prevented or detected early and cured. Communicate with your family about your family health history, it is knowledge that is very important to your or your children’s future health.
-Dr. James Frost, MD
Genetics plays a strong role in everything. It can determine everything from hair color to health. As a physician, it is important for my patients to know their family’s health history. It is like a map so we know what you are more prone to and can intervene, so you won’t develop what your family members have. Family history helps us calculate and personalize medicine, treatment, and care. Help us help you by knowing your family’s health history.
-Dr. Ann Chuang, MD
It is very important to know your family health history. In my case, my mother’s mother (maternal grandmother) and my mother’s aunt (maternal great-aunt and sister to my grandmother) both were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer in their late 60s. My maternal great aunt also had a GIST tumor which can also be genetic in transmission. On my father’s side, there is a cousin (my father’s second oldest sister’s daughter) who had breast cancer in her mid-40s. There is no other family history of breast cancer on my father’s side. My father’s eldest sister died of complications from liver cancer- possible Hepatitis from prior blood transfusions in the 1970s.
There is also hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease on my mother’s side of the family (maternal grandmother); there is no other significant family history that I am aware of at this time.
It is so important to know both the mother and the father’s family health history, as both sides play a part in your own health surveillance. The information that I provide to my doctors from the family history helps them guide my care.
-Dr. Anjeanette Brown, MD
Knowing your family history is very important because it can sometimes reveal patterns of diseases that may be putting you at risk for disease. It is important to know not only your family’s cancer history but also other diseases, like heart or lung disease and diabetes. Older generations can sometimes be reluctant to discuss their medical history as they feel it is private information. They should be encouraged to share their history because it may offer the progeny the ability to prevent diseases. When it comes to cancer diagnoses it is important to know at what age your family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast or colon cancer under the age of 50, it will mean that you need to start getting your screening mammograms or colonoscopies earlier than the general population. Currently we know about many different genes that can lead to cancers, so if you have a pattern of cancer types, or many people in your family with cancer, you may be a candidate for genetic testing. If you feel that you may be a candidate for genetic testing, it is important to discuss that with your doctor or see a genetic counselor who will go through your family tree and recommend appropriate testing, and then go over those results with you to understand your risk.
-Dr. Desiree D’Angelo, DO
To learn more about genetic testing and counseling we offer, please call us at 844-973-0002 or visit: https://www.premiersurgicalnetwork.com/breast-cancer-genetic-testing/