Cancer and Important Conversations
November 08, 2021
This holiday season, take advantage of time with relatives and have a conversation about your family’s health history.
“Knowing if certain cancers have been prevalent in your family can help your doctor determine your risk and recommend screenings,” says Cy Haatvedt, MD, general surgeon and chief medical officer at Huron Regional Medical Center. “With a view of your family’s health history, your doctor can also make recommendations to reduce your risk of other medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.”
Causes of Cancer in Families
The American Cancer Society estimates that between 5% and 10% of all cancers are inherited, or caused by an abnormal gene that can be passed down. However, some types of cancer are more likely to run in families, including:
- breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- colorectal cancer
- uterine cancer
Sometimes family history of cancer is due to commone lifesyle factors, such as smoking or eating an unhealthy diet.
When speaking with your family members about their health, be sure to ask:
- Who has or had cancer, and what kind of cancer is it?
- How old was the person when he/she was diagnosed?
- Did the person have risk factors for that type of cancer?
- If the person is no longer living, how old was he/she at the time of death, and what was the cause of death?
Talking to Your Doctor
Knowing whether family members have had cancer can help you and your doctor determine if you are at risk for inherited cancer. Telltale links include:
- A first-degree relative, including a parent, sibling or child, was diagnosed before turning 50.
- At least two other blood relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, on the same side of the family, had the same type of cancer.
- A relative was diagnosed with more than one type of cancer.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend genetic testing to help determine your risk for inherited cancer. Myriad Genetic Testing is available in Huron at the following clinics: HRMC Physicians Clinic, Women's Wellness Center, New Life Family Medicine and Huron Clinic.
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