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Learn Your Family History of Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Photo of a young woman and her elderly mother

Learning your family history of cancer, from both your mother’s and father’s sides, can help you know if you have a higher risk for getting breast or ovarian cancer at a young age.

Asking your relatives about their cancer histories can be hard. Here are some tips for talking with your family about this topic—

  • Explain that you are trying to create a record of your family’s history of cancer to protect your health.
  • Share that you have learned that breast and ovarian cancers can run in families. Women who know they have a family history of these cancers can do things to lower their risk.
  • Invite your family members to respond in a way and at a time that is most comfortable to them.
  • Word your questions carefully, be a good listener, and respect the privacy of others. Begin by asking your family members what they know about cancer in the family in general, and ask personal health questions later. Understand that some relatives may not want to share health information with you or they may not want you to pass on the information to others.