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Hereditary Cancer Clinic

Less than 10 percent of all cancers develop because of a gene change, or mutation, that is passed down in a family. People with a change in one of these genes have a hereditary cancer syndrome and a higher chance of getting certain cancers.

The Hereditary Cancer Clinic evaluates and counsels patients with a family risk of cancer. Our doctors, genetic counselors and nurse practitioner are specially trained in cancer genetics.

We recommend an initial evaluation if you or a family member:

  • Were diagnosed with cancer at a younger-than-average age
  • Have multiple relatives with the same cancer type
  • Have multiple cancers in a single person
  • Were diagnosed with certain rare cancers (such as male breast cancer, sarcoma or others)
  • Were diagnosed with certain benign growths or tumors (such as pheochromocytoma or others)
  • Have a known mutation (positive genetic test) for a gene that puts you at high risk for cancer

Hereditary Cancer Testing and Counseling: Why Choose Vanderbilt

  • Cancer genetic counseling is the best way to understand your risk or your family’s risk of hereditary cancer. We can help you identify who has an increased risk of cancer and may need a screening plan.
  • Our clinic is part of Vanderbilt’s Clinical and Translational Hereditary Cancer Program, which offers innovative research, patient care and education in the field of hereditary cancer genetics.
  • Your evaluation will be personal and focused on you – your health, your family history and the cancer risk testing that makes sense for you.
  • Your first appointment will be by phone, for convenience.
  • If genetic testing is recommended, we’ll help you determine insurance coverage.
  • We work closely with other Vanderbilt specialists in Women’s Health, Vanderbilt Breast Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

About Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is available for several genes known to cause hereditary cancer syndromes. Genetic testing can:

  • Help your medical team make decisions about your care, such as cancer screenings or prevention options, if you carry a specific gene mutation
  • Provide cancer risk information for you and other family members

Genetic testing is usually done with a small blood sample. Sometimes, a mouth rinse sample can be used instead of blood.

If possible, genetic testing should be started in a person who has had cancer. A family member with cancer has the highest chance of having a gene mutation. If testing a family member with cancer is not possible, testing can be started in a person without cancer.

Hereditary Cancer Clinic Services

  • Individual consultations and evaluations 
  • Genetic risk testing
  • Education on genetic cancer risk 
  • Risk reduction planning 
  • Patient and family resources

Hereditary Cancer Clinic Providers

Physician and Medical Geneticist


Genetic Counselors/Genetic Nurse Practitioners