You may wait for a few weeks or months before the clinic contacts you. They may send you a family history form to fill out before you have an appointment. This will usually ask you:
- the names and ages of your family members
- their relationship to you
- whether they are on your mother’s side or father’s side of the family
- what cancer types your relatives have had
- the age they were diagnosed.
It is not always possible to fill out the form completely. It may be difficult to contact or speak to some of your family members. Sometimes talking about a family member or their illness is painful or upsetting. Some relatives may not want to know more about possible cancer risk in your family.
Do not worry if you cannot get all the facts, but try to complete the form as much as you can. The team at the genetics clinic will understand.
A genetics specialist uses the information you give to work out if there might be an increased risk of cancer in your family. They may also use information from public records or a cancer registry to find out more about the cancers in your family.
Sometimes the genetics specialist can find useful information about a relative’s cancer diagnosis in their health records. If the relative is alive, they can only do this with their permission.