GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Several routine health screenings are recommended for adults.

How soon to be screened differs from person to person.

It’s based on personal and family medical history.

As part of our “Ask the Expert”, in Partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, we spoke with a nurse practitioner about why knowing your family’s history can be life-saving.

Diagnosing current conditions and preventing future illnesses often starts with a look into the past.

Jennifer Province, a nurse practitioner, says, “Family history is important.”

A review of the illnesses present in your extended family members will help your primary care provider give you the best care possible.

“It’s important because it can let your providers see some trends in the history of your family, and then maybe point some things that you may be at higher risk for developing, that we would need to screen for.”

Jennifer Province, Nurse Practitioner, Bon Secours St. Francis.

Just how far back do you need to go?

“Grandparents, parents, sometimes aunts, and uncles, your siblings, and occasionally we’re interested in illnesses that your kids may also have as well,” said Province.

Province says your provider will want to know what chronic illnesses run in your family.

“Things like hypertension, early heart disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, you know, those sorts of illnesses,” said Province.

This information can determine how soon you should be screened for those illnesses and when to start other recommended screenings like colonoscopies or mammograms.

“Depending on, what degree of the relative, first degree or second degree, those diagnoses were in and when they were diagnosed, and that sort of thing, it can change the recommended screening times. So, you may start your colonoscopy or your mammograms earlier than you would if you were just an average risk,” said Province.

If you do not know your family medical history and don’t have anyone you can ask, genetic testing can be an option.

Province says it’s safer to go through your primary care provider for this testing versus the DNA testing sites you see advertised on tv or online.