Why Does Knowing Your Family Health History Matter?

Later this week, it’s National Family Health History Day. Knowing your family history is the first step to understanding your risk for cancer. As Sema4’s offerings align to cancer prevention and management, we are marking National Family Health History Day by asking three of Sema4’s Certified Genetic Counselors to answer the following question: “Why does knowing your family health history matter?” Read on to get their insights.


“Knowing one’s family health history provides a powerful tool to assess health risks, inform medical decisions, and allow individuals to be proactive about their health. You cannot change your health history, but with the right information, you may be able to change your future.”
~ Cory McHale, MS, CGC
“Knowing your family health history is an important part of knowing about your own health and risks, as well as understanding possible risks for your children. Knowledge is power, and in the world of modern medicine (that includes genetic information), we can often utilize this knowledge to help us make decisions about pursuing various test options, and/or appreciate a deeper understanding about how to manage our own and our family’s healthcare effectively, efficiently, and appropriately.”
~ Daniel Ilg, MS, CGC
“Hereditary cancer genetic testing has vastly improved in the last decade. However, it is still important to consider these test results in the context of someone’s family history of cancer. Genetic counselors ask our patients to share the medical histories of their relatives and we often get the privilege of hearing their family’s story and experience. Therefore, family history not only guides a patient’s personalized cancer screening and/or risk-reduction plan but also provides opportunity for connection between the counselor and patient.”
~ Amanda Laterza Ozarowski, MS, CGC
Please take our Hereditary Cancer Family History Questionnaire to find out if Sema4’s hereditary cancer genomic testing may be right for you: sema4.com/hc-questionnaire. Sema4 Signal Hereditary Cancer offers high-quality testing with best-in-class support for patients and providers.