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Importance of Sharing with Family
Discover steps that will help you prepare to communicate your family medical history or genetic test results with relatives.

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Hereditary Cancer and Genetic Testing > Sharing With Family > Importance of Sharing with Family

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It's Important to Share Medical Information with your Family

Your relatives may have important information about your family's history of cancer. Similarly, your medical records or genetic test results may provide clues to help your relatives make medical decisions. Because  runs in families, it is important to exchange medical information with your relatives. Privacy laws make it difficult for health care providers to share their patients' medical information with anyone else. This puts the burden of sharing this life-saving information on members of the family.

Speaking with relatives

Your relatives may have different views about health or cancer than you do. In some families cancer may be considered very private matters never to be discussed. Some family members may believe it is bad luck to talk about cancer, or that speaking about cancer may invite the disease and make it more likely to happen.

Family alliances, beliefs about protecting children, and privacy concerns may all affect your ability to share health information with relatives. 

It's important to think about these dynamics when speaking about cancer with your relatives. It may be helpful to get assistance from family members who have collected genealogy information and those who are in close touch with many relatives.  

Last updated March 19, 2022