Why does my doctor ask about my family medical history and what do I need to know about it?
Why does family history matter?
Knowing your family’s health history is important to your own health. It could, in fact, help save your life. Your doctor can use your family health history to:
- Estimate your risk for certain medical conditions.
- Recommend treatments and lifestyle changes.
- Determine what tests and screenings are best for you.
- Identify conditions that otherwise might not be considered.
- Assess possible health risks for your children.
Ideally, your family health history should include the following information about each relative for at least 3 generations:
- Sex (male/female)
- Date of birth (the approximate year of birth is usually enough)
- Current age or, if the relative is no longer living, cause of death and age at death
- Diseases or medical conditions (including any history of colon polyps)
- If the relative had cancer (What type? How old were they when they were diagnosed?)
- Any known behavioral factors, including diet, exercise, smoking and drinking habits, and any weight problems