Latest version of online tool is first to assess risk for cancer and heart disease using family health history

Algorithms calculate risk factors to help people take action early, prevent development of life-threatening conditions

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) –  Even if you’re doing everything right to maintain your health and prevent disease, there may be threats of serious diseases hidden in your DNA. Genetics play a large part in a variety of conditions, including cancer and heart disease. Now, the latest version of an online tool developed by genetic experts and data scientists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is the first to assess an individual’s risk of developing both cancers and heart conditions known to have genetic ties using personal and family health history.  

“One in five individuals have increased risk based on their family history of cancer and heart disease. Knowing if you’re at elevated risk could help you learn more about what you should do to lower your risk or even prevent disease,” said Kevin Sweet, a licensed genetic counselor and professor of clinical internal medicine at Ohio State’s College of Medicine.

 The Family Health Risk Calculator is free and prompts users to enter information with as much detail as possible. For example, if someone reports an aunt had breast cancer, the tool will ask about her age at diagnosis and type of the cancer. The more details entered, the more accurate the assessment will be, and users can update the assessment as they learn more about the specifics of their family history.

“Users receive a final assessment that includes a summary of all the information that was used to identify whether they are at average risk or elevated risk of heart disease or cancer. That report can be printed or shared with family members as well as with your doctor, who can advise on next steps,” said Elizabeth Jordan, a licensed genetic counselor and associate professor of clinical internal medicine at Ohio State. “It might lead to genetic testing or counseling or your doctor may recommend early or more frequent screenings to stay ahead of any developing issues.”

The first iteration of the tool was developed nearly 25 years ago with a kiosk in the lobby of The James Cancer Hospital, and the Family Health Risk Calculator continues to evolve today. In the next few years, experts hope to expand its capabilities to assess risks of other diseases that are known to have strong hereditary components like brain and eye conditions. Click here to access the The Family Health Risk Calculator.

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Jerred Ziegler enters information about his family health history into the Family Health Risk Calculator, a first-of-its-kind free online tool developed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that identifies elevated risks for a variety of cancers and heart conditions known to have genetic ties.

Jerred Ziegler discusses his increased risk of heart disease with cardiologist Dr. Jim Liu at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Ziegler learned about his risk through the Family Health Risk Calculator, a free online tool that uses advanced algorithms to assess the details of the user’s family history and identify red flags for cancers and heart conditions with genetic causes.

Jerred Ziegler has always been extremely health conscious, but he still lives with an increased risk of heart disease. After entering his personal and family health history into the Family Health Risk Calculator, a free online tool that assesses risk for a variety of cancers and heart conditions, he is working with his doctor to stay ahead of any developing issues.

Licensed genetic counselors Kevin Sweet and Elizabeth Jordan discuss a patient's family health history at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, a step that is often recommended for those who use an advanced online tool to determine if they are at increased risk for certain cancers and heart conditions.

Elizabeth Jordan, a licensed genetic counselor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, discusses a patient’s family history and his possible increased risks for certain types of cancer and heart disease. Jordan helped design the latest version of the Family Health Risk Calculator, a free online tool that assesses hereditary risk so that users can take preventative action.



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