family members should update family history

For all of us with metastatic breast cancer, our family members need to update their family history with their primary care physicians. Healthy folks do not usually see doctors except for the occasional flu or sprain from athletic activities, so it’s easy to forget to change family history when going to the doctor for a totally unrelated event. But it is important and easy to do.

All it takes is a mention to the nurse or nurse’s assistant who takes a patient’s vital signs and writes down the patient’s reason for the visit in preparation for the doctor’s visit. Tell that person that the family history should now include the new information that a member of the family has metastatic breast cancer. Also, when the doctor comes into the room, it’s a good idea to mention it as well.

Updating family history will change the age at which family members become eligible for various screening procedures. For example, the age of eligibility changes for breast cancer screening for siblings and children of women with stage IV breast cancer.

Let’s add to our own to-do a reminder for our own family members to update their family history the next time they call or visit their doctors.

Ziogas A, et al “Clinically relevant changes in family history of cancer over time” JAMA 2011; 306(2): 172-178.

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© 2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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One response to “family members should update family history

  1. Very good point!!

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