Know Your Family History | VideoMichelle San Miguel | 11/17/2012
When patients see a doctor for the first time, they fill out a form that asks for their family`s medical history. But how many people actually know what to write down?
"You will not believe how many people will fill out that sheet out in the waiting room and they`ll come in and oh your parents are relatively healthy and they`ll say well but and they`ll tell you a story and you will pick out a lot of family history that they just didn`t know how to put down on that sheet," said Dr. Jennifer Beckwith, a family medicine doctor at Sanford Medical Center.
That`s not the case with Kodi Berg. At 26-years-old, she`s one of the more proactive young patients at Dr. Beckwith`s office. Berg`s grandfather died of colon cancer, one of several cancers that`s hereditary.
"Just being more aware of what your family history is makes me be more active, pro-active in seeing the doctor regularly and getting the check-ups so that if I end up going down that path it`s discovered sooner than later," she said.
Dr. Beckwith said, "Some people can have a hereditary disease or a hereditary gene and if they do test positive for the gene, it`s the BRCA gene or the BRCA gene in capital letters gene, then there`s actually increased screening that insurance pays for if they are positive for that gene."
The American Medical Association says identifying your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers can improve, delay or even prevent adverse health effects.
"You`re the first person to know when things aren`t right with your own body and you should really listen to your body," Berg said.
Dr. Beckwith recommends that people trace their family history as far back as their grandparents. Also, people should talk with their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and first cousins to see if there`s a medical condition that runs in the family.