Hereditary Cancer Clinic

Kevin Hughes, M.D., reviews test results with a patient.
"If you have a mutation in a cancer causing gene, the Hereditary Cancer Clinic is here to help you and your family manage and decrease the risk of cancer."

Dr. Kevin Hughes, director of the Hollings Hereditary Cancer Clinic


The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Hereditary Cancer Clinic is one of the first centers in the United States that is dedicated specifically to helping people with mutations in cancer-causing genes. The Hereditary Cancer Clinic provides a central location where patients with mutations for any type of hereditary cancer can get counseling, testing, screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Although an inherited mutation increases your risk of cancer, it does not automatically mean that you will get cancer. Our goal is to save lives by providing broad access to screening, prevention strategies, and dedicated specialist consultations in order to prevent hereditary cancers or diagnose and treat them as early as possible. The number of people who survive and thrive after receiving a cancer diagnosis is steadily rising thanks to greater awareness, better early detection, and advances in treatment.

How the Clinic can help you

If you do test positive for a genetic mutation, it is important to see someone who’s very familiar with that mutation, what cancers it increases risk for, how high that risk is and how best to minimize that risk. That's where our team comes in. We monitor, coordinate, and manage care across the cancer spectrum in order to ensure that patients with mutations receive more precise care from the appropriate specialists along with better long-term planning and follow-up.

The Hereditary Cancer Clinic team is composed of experts in identifying your risk level, and preventing, identifying early, and treating these cancers with the latest techniques.  Since your genes are unique, we create a highly personalized treatment plan based on your test results and medical situation. Our team will talk to you about your options and goals, and connect you with other specialists across MUSC to deliver the best care for you. We may also reach out to other family members who may be at risk.

Your treatment options may also include the possibility of receiving a unique, new therapy through one of our clinical trials. Participating in clinical trials allows the Hereditary Cancer Clinic to offer our patients treatments that may not be available at other medical centers.

To make an appointment with the Hereditary Cancer Clinic, call 843-792-0745.

Am I at risk for hereditary cancer?

You might consider genetic testing for a mutation that is linked to a hereditary cancer if you have:

  • Several close family members who developed cancer, or
  • Several family members who developed cancer at an early age, or
  • A family member who developed more than one type of cancer

If any of these indicators applies to you, please check with your doctor to find out if you should have genetic testing for cancer.

Genetic testing can establish whether you, personally, have mutations associated with hereditary cancer. If genetic testing finds a mutation, blood or saliva samples from other family members — a technique called cascade testing — can be arranged to identify your relatives who may also have inherited an elevated cancer risk gene.

Although genetic testing has been around since the 1990s, in recent years, the number of known genetic mutations associated with various cancers has grown rapidly. Currently, genetic testing can identify about 84 different genes that are linked to specific forms of cancer, and this number is expanding every year as research advances. As testing improves, we can provide even more targeted treatment and care.

Not sure about your risk for hereditary cancer?

If you are not sure whether you are at risk for hereditary cancer, ask your doctor at a regular check-up or when you get a mammogram or other cancer screening.

If you have a strong family history of cancer or have been told you are at higher risk, ask our hereditary cancer risk coordinator for help getting your questions answered by calling 843-792-0745.

Hereditary Cancer Research

four people sit around a large conference table with painted portraits of doctors on the walls and smile upwards at a camera
Hollings hereditary cancer research team

Our world-renowned cancer specialists continuously participate in groundbreaking research and clinical trials to advance the possibilities for treating hereditary cancer. Some of our work includes:

  • Using the latest cascade and DNA testing methods to detect inherited genetic mutations that are associated with certain cancers, recommend preventive measures, and provide early diagnosis and treatment.
  • Monitoring use of current clinical practice guidelines to ensure that hereditary cancer patients receive care that follows the latest recommendations. We believe this helps minimize cancer risk and find cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage. By monitoring how well current guidelines work, we can contribute to improving them — making prevention, diagnosis, and treatment even better.
  • Partnering with other MUSC departments, medical centers, and industry to make the latest approaches for decreasing cancer morbidity and mortality available to our patients as soon as possible.
  • Leading international efforts in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (AINLP) to organize the world’s largest database of cancer genetics knowledge. The MUSC Cancer Genetics Program is using this platform to develop tools such as Ask2Me.Org to improve clinical care and help patients better care for themselves at home. The more information we can provide patients and their providers, the better outcomes we will have.
  • Bringing together research experts from across MUSC and Hollings Cancer Center to collaborate on ongoing hereditary cancer research projects.