Just because your immediate family history doesn’t suggest an obvious pattern of hereditary cancer doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk. Your extended family history is equally important.Small families may have fewer cases of cancer or generations may be "skipped" if the cancer expression is sex-limited (meaning a certain kind of cancer only appears in one sex, such as ovarian cancer or prostate cancer). Furthermore, the ethnic origin of your ancestors may play a role in determiningwhether cancer could be hereditary.
Establishing a Frame of Reference
In order to determine the best course of action in assessing cancer risk, we need to have a basic frame of reference. This involves obtaining an accurate family history regarding the occurrence of cancer(s) in you, your immediate and extended family – your children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides. The type of cancer and the age of onset are extremely important for us to know.
Initial Screening Criteria for Patients Who Should Have Genetic Cancer Risk
Assessment We look at the number of your relatives with cancer, the closeness of their biological relationship to you, and the specific types of cancer in your family.For more specific information on who should be referred for genetic cancer risk assessment, please see our referral guidelines.