First Step: Identify Your Risk Factors

With knowledge comes empowerment

The first step in identifying what cancer screening you need, and when you need it, is to identify your risk factors. Both personal risk factors and family history can influence your screening decisions. Free online risk assessments are available from a variety of sources.

You can click here to access easy to use downloadable assessment tools (personal checklist and family history chart) to help you learn about specific risk factors and share with other family members.

The US Surgeon General’s Office provides its online family health portrait here. This tool allows you to save and update your history over time.

A user-friendly online assessment for breast and ovarian cancer can be found by clicking here.  This tool, from the national non-profit organization, Bright Pink, allows you to print out your results and take them with you when you visit your healthcare provider.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides family history information here. The American Medical Association offers information about the value of collecting your family’s health history and lets you watch the “Family Health History Splainer” and download a valuable guide to family health history here.

Starting a conversation about health history with other family members  can be difficult. This family history fact sheet provides an overview. To watch a brief video demonstrating how to start a conversation about documenting family health history, click here.

Talking About BRCA in Your Family Tree is helpful for communicating about genetic cancer risk if you have had genetic testing and been found to have a BRCA gene mutation. The tool is offered by the nonprofit organization FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered). FORCE has a wealth of other valuable resources on its website. Click here to watch a short video demonstrating ways to communicate with family members about genetic testing results.

Whatever risk assessment tools you choose to use, make sure you print them out to share with your healthcare provider at your next visit. This is critical information. Together you can determine the best screening tests to get, when to start them, and how often to get tested.

To watch a video of a panel discussion about Family History and Cancer Risk held October 29, 2018 at the Community Health Endowment in Lincoln, click here.