Young man taking a selfie of his family, including a child and seniors.


Know Your Family History

Knowing your family health history can help determine your personal cancer risk.

Most people who get cancer do not have a family history of the disease, which is one reason screening is so important—but a personal or family history of cancer or certain other diseases may increase your risk.

Family History Chart

To help determine your risk, complete this family history chart and share it with your health care provider and other family members.

  • For each blood relative, note any cancer or other chronic disease the person had and the age at which each was diagnosed.
  • Note any surgeries related to cancer and the dates of the procedures.
  • Note the date of birth and date and cause of death for any family member who is deceased.

This information will help you and your health care provider decide which cancer screenings you need, when to begin screening and how often you should be screened.

Printable PDF family history chart

Genetic testing

Please note that the following information applies to predictive genetic testing only; this is different from tumor profiling (also known as genomic, biomarker or molecular profiling), which is done after a cancer diagnosis to determine mutations that may affect how the patient responds to certain treatments.

Genetic testing may be an option for those who want more information about their cancer risk. Predictive genetic testing is performed to look for specific changes, called mutations, in a person’s genes before they show signs of a disease.

Even if you test negative for these mutations, you could still be at risk for developing cancer, like others in the general population. Only 5%-10% of cancer cases are caused by hereditary gene mutations.

If you are adopted or estranged from your family:

If you are adopted or estranged from your family, you might have limited or no knowledge of your family history. Talk to your genetic counselor or health care provider about any family health history you are aware of and your race/ethnicity to see if genetic testing makes sense for you. You should also always inform your health care provider if you are adopted.

Learn more about genetic testing