Screening family history could lead to preventive treatment of multiple cancers, heart disease and diabetes – altering the destiny of many of these diseases that pass on from generation to generation, a study has indicated. Researchers have identified a set of questions that can be used to identify people who may be at increased risk of various diseases because of their family history of these conditions.
The family history screening questionnaire can be used to provide insight into people’s susceptibility to breast, ovarian, bowel and prostate cancer, melanoma, ischaemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes, researchers claimed. “This finding could be used as a screening tool in general practice to identify people who need a more detailed discussion about their family history of cancer, diabetes or heart disease,” said Jon Emery, a professor of primary care cancer research at University of Melbourne in Australia.
“Some people may require referral to a genetics clinic to discuss genetic testing, many more may require earlier cancer screening and lifestyle management,” he added. Family medical history remains the most relevant genetic risk tool in use in clinical practice. Evidence suggests that having knowledge of a family history of a specific condition is associated with improved uptake of a range of disease-preventative activities, such as cancer screening and reduced sun exposure.