Hereditary Cancer Services

Duke’s hereditary cancer experts offer genetic testing and genetic counseling to people diagnosed with cancer, as well as people who may be at risk of developing cancer. Our genetic counselors work closely with oncologists who are trained to diagnose and treat hereditary cancers, comprising five to ten percent of all cancers. If you have already been diagnosed with cancer, genetic counseling can help guide your treatment. If you have a family history of cancer, we can clarify your risk, and offer expert counseling. We help you make informed decisions about treatment options and lifestyle changes to lower the potential impact cancer may have on your life now and in the future.

Cancer Genetics: Knowledge is Power

If cancer runs in your family, you may consider genetic testing to determine your cancer risk. If you have already been diagnosed breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or colon cancer, knowing whether this cancer is inherited can direct your treatment decisions. It may also impact your loved ones’ health in the future.

Genetic testing can alleviate fears in people who find they do not carry specific gene changes that may lead to cancer. It can also be a lifesaver. By arming yourself with knowledge about your cancer risk, you can make important decisions about screening, treatment and preventive surgery, which may reduce your cancer risk and cancer’s impact on your life.

Choose Duke's hereditary cancer services because we offer:

  • Specially trained genetic cancer counselors. Our board-certified genetic counselors are specially trained in medical genetics and counseling. They become your ongoing support resource for information about the risks and benefits of genetic testing, the consequences of knowing test results, and ensuring your genetic information remains private and confidential.
  • Preventive measures. We help you make informed decisions that will reduce your cancer risk, and ensure you understand the importance of screening for early detection. Depending on your condition, we may recommend a regular screening program, lifestyle changes, and preventive surgery.
  • Network of cancer researchers. We work closely with researchers nationwide to better understand inherited cancers and to develop new tools for estimating cancer risk.
  • Easy access to clinical trials. You may be eligible to participate in clinical trials that may lead to new and improved ways to treat cancer, and help identify people who may develop cancer in the future.
  • Convenient locations. In addition to our offices in Durham and Raleigh, we provide telemedicine sessions (similar to Skype) for patients in Henderson and Laurinburg, N.C. We also work with outreach clinics in Virginia and Florida.
  • No referral needed. If you would like to speak with a genetic counselor, we’ll do our best to schedule you as soon as possible. If you already have an appointment in the Duke Cancer Center, your genetic counselor may arrange to see you same day you are seeing your radiation or medical oncologist.
  • Ongoing support. We offer access to national and international support groups for hereditary cancer syndromes through our cancer support programs. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.  


Our genetic counselors, medical oncologists, gastroenterologists, gynecologists and primary care physicians work together to provide the following services:

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