Talking about cancer, especially about a history of cancer in the family, can be so difficult. Hopefully the information here will make it easier.


Know Your Family's Cancer History

Talking openly about health history with your family is important. Documenting that information, especially if there is a family history of cancer, can be life-saving.

Click Here to Download the Family Health/Cancer Pedigree PDF

If there's a family history of cancer someone has to care enough to become educated enough about any hereditary cancer risks and then have the courage to speak up and share that knowledge with the family. Sounds simple, but it’s not. In fact, talking about cancer, and specifically about a history of cancer in the family, can be so difficult for some people.

Being aware of a family history of cancer can provide important information that you and your physician can use to determine if you’re a candidate for genetic testing, more frequent screenings, and/or other preventive measures.

There have been more than 50 hereditary cancer syndromes discovered so far. Many of the cancers associated with these syndromes can be prevented with proper and timely screenings.

To get started, contact your parents or siblings to find out what they know about cancer in the family. Then branch out and talk to other living members of the family. Then contact grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Remember, if you’re related by blood, you are connected by genes. And if there are any deceased relatives, be sure to research the cause of death and the age at which they died.

If there's a history of cancer be sure to include as much detail about any family member’s diagnosis as possible. And remember to be your own medical advocate. Do not let the doctor brush off your concerns.

Talking openly about cancer, while not always easy, will not kill you or your relatives. However, to be bluntly honest, ignoring a cancer threat to you or a loved one can.


This site was created by Mark A. Hicks, artist, illustrator and hereditary cancer awareness and prevention advocate. To learn more go to his main blog,

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If you have something to share about hereditary cancer please do share it. Speaking up can help save lives.