Make Collecting Family Health History Part Of Your Thanksgiving Plans

For some, being home for the holidays means lots of extra family time, often with multiple generations coming together to celebrate under one roof. Most likely, your conversations at this time will center around what’s new at work or what trip you went on over the summer. This November, we’re asking you to take advantage of this rare opportunity to take the conversation in a different, proactive direction.

Bright Pink is a national nonprofit focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer. As up to 25% of breast and ovarian cancers are familial or hereditary, having an understanding of your family health history landscape can act as a powerful roadmap for you and your healthcare provider. We want to help you understand why it’s important, what information to collect, and what to do with your family health history when its collected.

The Facts

Having a first-degree relative (a mother, sister, grandmother) who has had breast or ovarian cancer can double your risk.  And, if their cancer was the result of a genetic mutation, that can be passed down across generations by either parent.  When this happens, your risk of breast cancer can be as high as 87% and as high as 54% for ovarian cancer.

There are many actions that women can take to reduce their risk or detect these cancers early (the 5-year survival rate for breast and ovarian cancer when detected early can be greater than 92%!) but it takes an initial understanding of that risk to identify what actions may be most meaningful for your health.

Your Thanksgiving Game Plan

Between travel delays, turkey cooking time, and holiday shopping plans, the holidays can become jam-packed. That’s why Bright Pink wants to help equip you with the tools you need to gather your family health history and assess your risk, and a game plan to fit it all in to what can be a hectic long-weekend.

Step 1: Collect your questions beforehand.

When looking at your family health history, both your parent’s sides are equally important in determining your personal level of risk. While breast and ovarian cancer history is important, other types of cancer can also be indicators of an inherited genetic risk—so capture everything you can. Ask:

  • Who had cancer?
  • What type of cancer?
  • How old were they at diagnosis?