Stuffing, pies, football, parades and family―what’s not to love about Thanksgiving? Kicking off the holiday season, Thanksgiving brings the whole family together for a day of giving thanks, catching up, and of course, eating delicious food. Thanksgiving is also Family Health History Day making it the perfect holiday, when family is together, to talk about your family’s medical history.
Family history can play a critical role in your risk for certain cancers. If you have a close relative who has been diagnosed or several family members with the same type of cancer, it’s important to ask your doctor about your risk factors and screening options. Leading institutions, like the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), issue guidelines recommending certain cancer screenings at specific ages and intervals. But these guidelines are often inconsistent with each other, and the screenings you need may differ from guidelines based on a variety of factors, including your family history. That’s why it’s incredibly important to talk to your health care professional about your personal risks and medical history to help you decide which screenings are right for you.
Take the opportunity to ask older relatives about cancer trends in your family. Genetics can play a role in your risk for cancer; one of the best ways to prevent cancer is to know what you’re up against. Use this chart to determine your family medical history and bring it with you to your next doctor’s appointment. It’s also a great resource to share with family members—a detailed family medical history will help generations to come make good decisions about their health.
When you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, talk about something the whole family can be thankful for―preventing cancer or detecting it in early, treatable stages. Visit preventcancer.org to learn more about cancer prevention and early detection, and find some healthy recipes for Thanksgiving!