It is often helpful to gather detailed information about your family history of cancer before your initial genetic counseling appointment. Please complete our Cancer Risk Evaluation Packet and bring it with you to your appointment. Please document the specific cancer diagnosis as accurately as possible, including the individual’s age at the time of the diagnosis. For families with a history of colon cancer and polyps, it is helpful to know who in the family has had a colonoscopy and whether or not polyps were identified. For individuals with polyps, the genetic counselor will want to know the number of polyps and the type of polyp, if possible. Some families are able to obtain a lot of information about their relatives, but sometimes detailed information is unavailable-please provide as much information as you can.

If a member of your family has already had genetic testing, it is important to bring a copy of the test result to your appointment. You can also fax relevant test results or pathology reports to the genetic counselor before your appointment. Please be sure to write your name on the top of any faxed material.

Please fax relevant information to 781-744-2982, Attn: Lahey Genetics.

Family History Tools

An accurate family medical history is an important tool for genetics providers. If certain diseases affect one generation, it can be more likely that the next generation will be similarly affected. A healthcare practitioner can use family history information to provide more accurate risk assessments and to help guide screening and prevention recommendations. A family history is often recorded by drawing a “pedigree.” A pedigree uses symbols to represent family members and relationships.

family history tool
Figure 1: Sample family tree from family with early-onset breast cancer

If you have a personal or family history of cancer, you can print out and complete the Cancer Risk Evaluation Packet created by the Familial Cancer Risk Assessment Center at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.

For additional information on how to document your family history and interactive family history tools, please use the following links:

Your Family History – Your Future: General information about how to gather and document your family history created by the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

The Cancer History Guide: An interactive tool created by Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc. to document your family history of cancer.

My Generations: An interactive tool created by Evanston Northwestern Healthcare to document your family history of cancer.

My Family Health Portrait: An interactive tool created by the US Surgeon General Family History Initiative as a way to document your family history of cancer and other medical conditions.