A Family History of Cancer

This is neither mundane nor pointless, but it best fits in this forum.

Yesterday, my aunt was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. She will probably begin treatment on Monday.

She is the 4th out of 6 siblings and her mother to be diagnosed with cancer.

Order of siblings, oldest to youngest: Aunt B., Aunt J., Uncle J., My Father, Uncle R. and Uncle T.

[ul]Aunt B. died at age 49 from multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow).[/ul]

[ul]Uncle J. died at age 49 from esophageal cancer that metastasized to the pancreas.[/ul]

[ul]My Grandmother died in 2000 from some rare non-smokers lung cancer. (Sorry, right now I can’t remember the scientific name.)[/ul]

[ul]My Father was diagnosed last year with colon cancer that has metastasized to the liver.[/ul]

[ul]Aunt J., as I mentioned above, was diagnosed yesterday with AML.[/ul]

Obviously it seems that cancer, in general, is hereditary in that blood line. Because my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, I’ve already had a colonoscopy at age 33. Thankfully, the doctor said I have a “boring colon.” I’m quite okay with that.

In the back of my mind, though, I do have that fear that The Cancer[sup]TM[/sup] will flare up at any time. And, because there have been so many diagnosed cancers between my aunts and uncles, there’s no peace of mind of testing for one specific kind.

I’m not sure I have a point to this OP, really, other than to get my feelings off my chest. The battle with cancer is a horrible process (or, at least it can be for some). I hope none of you have to deal with it.

I know how you feel. It’s scary thinking back on family history and what it could potentially mean for you.

My grandfather on my mother’s side died of a heart attack in his late 50’s.

My grandmother on my mother’s side died of colon cancer, so did my dad in his early 60’s, and my dad suffered from heart problems too.

So I figure I’m going to go via a heart attack while under going chemo form my colon cancer…

Well not, not really I’m hoping that I’ll be healthy. The good news about all this bad news is that we have a bit of knowledge. We know what things to watch out for, what things to check.

I completely understand your frustrations.

My great grandmother had what they think was breast cancer that spread and killed her, way back when my grandmother was a kid (late 40s, early 50s). That grandmother grew up to develop breast cancer at 61- she just finished chemo. My dad’s mom died of cancer (I have no idea what kind). My mom probably has something wrong with herself, but she never checks or takes care of herself.

And here I am at 20 with lumps in my breasts. Just today I went in for the ultrasound. It’s definitely scary to think that I may have inherited such crappy genes.

My mother is one of 11. Of the 11, six have had cancer. Mother’s had it twice, including uterine cancer while she was carrying me. Brain tumor, two colon cancers, two breast cancers, and I forgot the other one. My father was a life-long non-smoker who died of lung cancer. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. Most people on my father’s side have diabetes. I am scraping the bottom of the gene pool.


Yes, there are inheritable genes that increase one’s chances of developing cancer. They are known as oncogenes, as a mutation can increase the risk of cancer. Many of these genes code for proteins involved in apoptosis, apoptosis being programmed cell death that results when the cell’s DNA becomes damaged to the point where the cell functions poorly. Other oncogenes code for proteins that regulate DNA copying, removing or increasing the regulation. In the end, you have a cell that becomes impolite: it continues to grow and divide and crowd out normal cells.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any lab tests that can monitor for oncogene function or misfunction. We’re working on it, but it’s going to take more time, and require a major paradigm shift in the way medicine is practiced and medical care is delivered. The best oyu can do at the moment is to be aware and have anything unusual investigated as soon as you notice it.

There is evidence that glucan from oats makes it easier for your immune system to kill off cancerous cells. Digoxin has been known for thirty years now to limit the growth and spread of cancerous cells, but the majority of the research has been done in the past 8 years.


Family History can be due to shared genetics, shared environmental or occupational exposures, shared lifestyle patterns and the like.

It isn’t enough to note “Family Hx of Cancer” without exploring these non-genetic issues.

Hey there’a a new study out that onions and curry can reduce the number of precancerous polyps in the colon. Good news for those (like me) with a family history of colon cancer.

I come from a very cancery family. Brain, colon, pancreatic, bladder, lung, uterine…you name it, we’ve had it.

I just saw a thing on tv this week that featured a family with a genetic disposition to stomach cancer. They lost their grandmother and most of her children to it. So the cousins got tested and 11 of them had their stomachs removed. It was a pretty fascinating program.

I have a family history of Type 1 diabetes. Not as lethal as cancer, but not a lot of fun. Sometimes I think my mom actually wants me to become diabetic, just so she’ll have another person to bitch about it with. (I know that sounds awful, but she’s always saying stuff like, “Enjoy that ice cream, you won’t be able to eat it after you become diabetic.” Thanks, mom.)

Also have a family history of skin cancer, but I think that’s more environmental than genetic. Pale Irish skin + California sun - sunblock = melanoma. And Bulgarians are constantly asking me why I don’t go get a tan, why am I so pale, why don’t I go to the pool to lay out? Um, no, I’ll be the person huddled in the shade, wearing a hat, covered in sunblock. Thanks, though.

Just got diagnosed with cancer of the bladder and had it chopped out. Dad died at exactly my age from cancer. He was a very heavy smoker and the diagnosis was too late. I’ve never smoked and a great GP picked up the symptoms early. Fairly minor surgery looks totally successful and may be the end of the story. I gather that early detection and avoidance of the major risk factors - smoking being the big one including passive smoking - can keep the ‘c’ on cancer small. Lots and lots of people beat it.

So make sure you have a good GP. Don’t ignore symptoms. And don’t smoke nor tolerate passive smoking.

Fresh papaya seeds - eat them. My Carib mother-in-law always wants to ram them down our necks, and several years ago I read there’s an enzyme in them that explodes cancer cells. Doing something will make you feel you are evening the odds a bit.

One of the biggest bones of contention between my brother and I is the fact that he took up smoking. Things like me smoking or taking birth control pills are unfathomable, even if the risks claim to be “small.” Why?

My mother’s had and survived cancer.
Her dad didn’t (liver cancer)
nor her mother (breast cancer)
nor her mother’s three sisters (breast, breast but died of pnemonia while in remission, ovarian)
nor either of her mother’s parents (breast, I don’t know)
nor 3 out of four of her mother’s grandparents…

I try to avoid adding to my risk because I feel like my family is being stalked.

As an addendum -

I talked to my oldest sister last night. Next week she goes to meet with surgeons. They’ve found a suspicious lump on her breast. My mother had breast cancer, as has one of my aunts.


Wow. That sucks. :frowning:

My dad has had two bouts of prostate cancer. My mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer in her 50’s. They’re both okay now. My grandfather died of lymphoma at 69. Family history can be a very scary thing.

StG - all the very best from a stranger to your sister. The fear and worry is a big issue with cancer. Also, my thoughts are with you. This will just increase your fear, too. I am so sorry this is hanging over you both. Let us know what happens.