Saturday, October 1, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As a family history researcher, I have seen many people checking death certificates at the Minnesota History Center to see what an ancestor died from.  They want to know if heart disease, dementia or a number of other diseases run in their family.
Due to the large number of articles and news programs on women whose sisters, mothers and grandmothers all had breast cancer, I was very surprised to learn that only an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancers are hereditary.1 That means 90 percent or more of women who get breast cancer will not have any history of the disease in their family. In other words, checking your ancestors’ death certificates to see if anyone in your family has had breast cancer is no indication of your risk.
If you or a friend or loved one hasn’t gotten a mammogram in over a year, get one as soon as possible. If you’re over 50, talk with your doctor before you decide to follow or ignore the advice offered by The United States Preventive Services Task Force’s (USPSTF2) to get a mammogram every two years. If you want to continue to get one every year, do it. A yearly mammogram could save your life. It saved mine.
Knowing about your family’s health history is important. Knowing about your own health is critical.
Discover your roots and watch the branches of your family tree begin to grow.
For more information on Family History Research services, visit
and click on Family History Research.
2The USPSTF is an independent panel of non-Federal experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine and is composed of primary care providers (such as internists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, nurses, and health behavior specialists).