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Talking With Your Family

Learn about genes and cancer, signs of hereditary cancer, genetic counseling, types of genetic tests and what results mean for you and your family.

Sharing risk information with adult relatives

It is important to share information with your blood relatives about the cancer in your family and about your genetic test results. If you are uncertain which relatives to tell, a genetics expert can help you determine which blood relatives may be at risk for hereditary cancer or for carrying an inherited mutation. We developed this worksheet, a family medical history chart template, and a sample letter to help you identify the relatives to tell and prepare for your conversation. 

The best way to discuss health information is individual and depends on your relationship with relatives. Here are some tips for sharing:

  • Be sensitive to family members’ situations and feelings.
  • Give relatives the names of genetics specialists in their area to ensure that they receive up-to-date information.
  • Avoid pressuring relatives to make a particular decision.
  • Respect their right to gather information from experts and make their own informed decisions.
  • Provide them with the name of a genetics expert that they can consult with in their area or by telephone. 

Updated 09/09/2016

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