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Sharing Health Information
Discover steps that will help you prepare to communicate your family medical history or genetic test results with relatives.

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Glossary on

Sharing medical information with relatives

Inherited mutations can be passed down to children from either parent, so it's important for you to know and share your medical history on both sides of the family. 

Collecting your relatives' medical history and sharing your medical information with them

The term “degree of relatedness” describes how closely a family member is related to you. First-degree relatives share half of your , while second-degree relatives share a quarter of your . The closer the degree of relatedness, the more likely a relative is to have inherited the same mutation you have. If possible, you should collect medical information from and share your medical information with the following relatives:

  • First-degree relatives
    • Siblings
    • Children
    • Parents
  • Second-degree relatives
    • Half-siblings
    • Uncles and aunts
    • Grandparents
    • Grandchildren
    • Nieces and nephews
  • Third-degree relatives
    • Cousins
    • Great-grandparents
    • Great-aunts and great-uncles

Important medical information

If possible, the following family medical information should be collected and shared with close relatives:

  • family members who were diagnosed with cancer
  • age at diagnosis
  • type of cancer, including pathology results, if available
  • genetic test results 

The more detailed the information, the more helpful it can be. Hospitals are not required to retain records beyond 10 years, but sometimes they have older records available.

It’s equally important to share your own medical information with relatives. Request copies of your records and lab reports to keep for your personal records. A genetics expert can determine which information will be most helpful to your relatives.

Last updated September 01, 2020