Family History Assessment

Drawing a Family Tree or Pedigree

There are different ways of recording your family health information. Pictured are two examples: a pedigree drawing and a family history questionnaire.

A pedigree is the term given by genetic counsellors and genetic specialist for a family tree. It gives a visual overview of the family’s cancer history.

For some people, it is easier to record the information in table, such as the family history questionnaire. You can download the Sydney Cancer Genetics Family History Questionnaire as a document that you can print out or edit on your computer.

What Information Do I Need?

Whatever method you use there are some key things you need to record for each person such as:

  • Full Name and Date of Birth (or approximate age)
  • If they had cancer, record how old were they when diagnosed and what type it was
  • For relatives who have died, record their age and cause of death

Some documents that can be helpful regarding any cancer in your family are:

  • Doctors’ letters describing the type of cancer and any treatment
  • Pathology reports about the type of cancer
  • Death certificates

Getting Started

Begin by recording your family’s ethnicity

(eg British, Ashkenazi Jewish, Chinese)

Next, start with yourself.
Then record your first degree relatives

(children, brothers and sisters, parents)

Followed by your second degree relatives

(grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews)

Include any third degree relatives (cousins, great-aunts and great-uncles) if they have had cancer.

Remember to state who they “belong” to, especially if you are recording the information on a family history questionnaire. For example: Jane Smith, Ben Smith’s daughter.

A Family Tree or Pedigree




A Family History Questionnaire

You can download a copy of the Sydney Cancer Genetics Family History Questionnaire by clicking here