It’s not uncommon for younger family members to ask where their grandparents came from, where they lived or how many children they had. Playing detective to figure out the names, locations and relationships of older relatives or distant generations can be fun. Gathering your family medical history can be interesting, too, with the added value of helping the people you love. The results might reveal a family connection to inherited conditions and diseases. Uncovering these kinds of family links can help doctors take better care of your loved ones, including recommending screenings, genetic testing, and looking for early warning signs of disease, including cancer.
Jessica Everett and Victoria Raymond, U-M genetic counselors, say that red flags concerning cancer in your family’s medical history can include:
More than one relative with the same or related cancers
MI-ONCOSEQ is one of those initiatives you’ll only find at a world-class institution like the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. The SEQ part of the name stands for gene sequencing: the more we understand about the genetic makeup of advanced cancers, the more researchers can develop and test new theories about how to treat metastatic disease. Every Cancer Center patient with metastatic cancer is invited to participate in this genetic sequencing effort. (Ask your oncologist).
“Even if it won’t necessarily cure me, at least I can do something to help the next Continue reading →
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day since 2004. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.
Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors that can determine shared risk for diseases such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. That’s why family gatherings like Thanksgiving are the perfect time to collect your family health history, record it for the future, and encourage family members to share it with their health care providers. These easy steps can help you understand the risk for various diseases and encourage early detection and prevention. Continue reading →
The PALB2 gene, which is also called the partner and localizer of BRCA2, is a gene that contributes to inherited susceptibility to breast cancer and perhaps ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The PALB2 gene contains the directions for making a protein that acts together with the BRCA2 protein. When they are functioning normally, these two genes work together as tumor suppressors.
How does cancer start at the genetic level?
Most cancers occur when two mutations in a tumor suppressor gene occur in a single cell during a person’s lifetime. Some individuals inherit an altered copy of a tumor suppressor gene. If a second mutation occurs in the tumor suppressor gene in any cell of their body, a tumor may develop. Since they already have an altered tumor suppressor gene in all of the cells of their body, individuals with an inherited mutation in a tumor suppressor gene are more likely to develop cancer.
Cancer due to an inherited alteration in a tumor suppressor gene is more likely to occur at a younger age (for example, Continue reading →
“I already went to see a genetic counselor and I was negative. So I don’t need to think about genetics anymore, right?” Actually, reconnecting with your genetic counselor every once in a while is a good idea. The field of genetic science is an ever-changing field. New discoveries are made all the time that can help us better understand the influence of genetics on a person’s health. For many people it is a huge relief when they revisit a genetics clinic and have testing that does not identify any mutations.
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