Kidney Cancer – Risk Factors and Causes

Risk factor increases the chances of a person to acquire a certain disease. Risk factors for all cancers are not identical though some may be common. There are certain factors like lifestyle that can be altered while certain factors like genetics and family history that cannot be altered.  

Though there are no definitely known causes of kidney cancer there are certain factors that have been associated with it. In this article we discuss the risk factors for kidney cancer.

As mentioned above risk factor is a term used to describe the chances of a person getting cancer. There can be two kinds of risk factors – first, those that can be modified and second that cannot be modified. Irrespective of the type of risk factor it is not being suggested that in case a person is at higher risk he will definitely get cancer. It is not easy to determine how much does a risk factor contribute towards the risk of cancer.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney Cancer

When it comes to kidney cancer, the following risks have been recognized:

Lifestyle related:

Though there are no definite reasons why a person may get cancer but there some factors that increase the chances of developing cancer. Some of these factors are usually clubbed under lifestyle related factors. A ray of hope with these factors is these can be altered. Some of the factors related to lifestyle leading to kidney cancer are:

  • Smoking – Smoking is considered to be one factor that increases the risk of RCC. The same drops when a person stops smoking. It may take years all together to eliminate the risk all together.
  • Obesity – Obesity causes changes in hormones which may further develop RCC.
  • Exposure to chemicals:  There are certain substances that a person may be exposed to at work environment leading to an increased risk of RCC. Metals like cadmium and certain herbicides and solvents may increase the risk of cancer.

Genetic risk factors:

In certain people there are strong tendencies to develop a certain type of cancer. This may the result of changes in the genes inherited from parents. For people with hereditary conditions it is imperative that they consult their doctors. These people may be put on regular tests to be able to diagnose tumors early. Hereditary conditions that may lead to kidney cancer are described below:

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  • von Hippel-Lindau disease

Patients diagnosed with this genetic condition develop cysts and tumors in the body show a higher tendency of developing RCC.  This is a condition that is the result of mutations in the gene identified as VHL.

  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma

This is another genetic condition that increases the risk factor of developing RCC. This is connected with the gene identified as MET.

  • Hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma

Patients complaining of this syndrome have muscle tumors known by the name leimyomas (fibroids) in the uterus amongst women and skin. These show an increased tendency to develop RCC.

  •  Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome

People diagnosed with this syndrome complain of tumors in the skin that are benign in nature and may show a higher risk of kidney cancer. The gene FLCN is responsible for this condition.

  •  Familial renal cancer

This is a syndrome as a result of which people may develop tumors paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas (in areas like  adrenal glands). People diagnosed with this condition may get cancer before the age of 40.

Genetic defects in certain genes may lead to a condition known as Cowden-like syndrome as a result of which people may be at a higher risk of kidney cancer.

  • Hereditary renal oncocytoma

This is a condition where people inherit a tendency as a result of which they develop a tumor known by the name oncocytoma. This is a benign tumor.

In addition to the above additional risk factors that may increase a person’s chances of getting kidney cancer are:

  •  Family History: An earlier case of RCC in the family increases the risks of the disease. The risk amongst brothers and sisters is the highest. This could be both due to similar genes and exposure to identical environment.
  • High blood pressure: People complaining of high blood pressure exhibit a higher risk of kidney cancer. Though the relation is not clear certain medicines taken to deal with high blood pressure increase the risk.
  • Certain Medicines: There are certain drugs that can be associated with RCC. This may include pain relievers and diuretics.
  • Advanced Kidney Diseases: People complaining of advanced kidney diseases which require dialysis are at a higher risk of kidney cancer.
  • Gender: The chances of men getting RCC is nearly double as compared to women. The incidence of smoking amongst men is higher and so are chances of exposure to specific chemicals at the work place which may be lead kidney cancer.
  • Race: People of African American and American Indian descent show a higher tendency than others to develop RCC.
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  • meetunayyar
  • A lawyer by profession, social worker and a fighter against cancer