How important is family history in diagnosing gynecologic cancer?
Family history is very important when assessing a person's risk for gynecologic cancer. Not only is gynecologic cancer more likely in women whose close relatives have had gynecologic cancer as well, but a family history of other cancers — breast, colon, rectal — increase the risk of gynecologic cancer.
For this reason, women with a family history of certain cancers are often encouraged to be more aggressive about medical examinations. In fact, for some cancers, such as ovarian cancer, there is no standard screening protocol unless a woman is a member of a high-risk family. If a woman does have a family history, then screening is recommended.
When you see your gynecologist, if you haven't already had a thorough discussion about it, bring up whether your family history might place you at risk. Beginning this conversation might feel scary, vulnerable, or daunting, but this knowledge is a very important tool to lower your risk of gynecologic cancer.