Kidney Cancer Cliff Notes

April 7, 2021

In the U.S., approximately 2% of all cancers arise from the kidney. Each year, kidney cancer is diagnosed in approximately 52,000 Americans. Kidney cancer is about twice as common in males than females and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 50 and 70 years. With early diagnosis and treatment kidney cancer can be cured, and survival rates for patients with kidney cancer range from 79-100%.

As the name suggests, kidney cancer starts in the kidneys. It begins when cells in the body begin to grow abnormally. The most common kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC), which makes up approximately 9 out of 10 kidney cancer cases.

There are some known links that may increase the risk of developing kidney cancer:

Smoking: The amount that one smokes seems to be related to the increase in risk. This increased risk drops once one stops smoking.

Hypertension: Studies have suggested that certain medicines used to treat high blood pressure may raise the risk of kidney cancer. However, it has not been determined if it is the hypertension itself or the medication (or a combination of the two) that may be the cause of the increased risk.

Obesity: Obesity may cause changes in hormones that can lead to RCC.

Family history of kidney cancer: Those with a strong family history of RCC are at a higher risk of developing it. Risk is highest for those who have a brother or sister with RCC.

Workplace Exposure: Many studies have suggested that workplace exposure to certain substances like cadmium, herbicides, organic solvents and trichloroethylene increases the risk for RCC.

Race: African Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives have slightly higher rates of RCC.

Chronic kidney failure and/or dialysis: Those with advanced kidney disease, especially those needing dialysis, have a higher risk of RCC.

Diet with high caloric intake or fried/sautéed meat: A diet heavy in these foods often leads to obesity which is a risk factor for RCC.

Other hereditary or genetic risk factors: hereditary papillary RCC, hereditary renal oncocytoma, hereditary leiomyoma RCC, von Hippel Lindau disease, Brit Hogg Dube Syndrome (BHD), tuberous sclerosis and Cowden Syndrome are all linked to higher rates of RCC.

If you have any concerns about the health of your kidneys, please contact Austin Urology Institute at 512.694.888 to schedule an appointment with a provider.