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Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer risk factors

Risk factors for kidney cancer may vary. While the exact cause of kidney cancer may not be known, several factors may increase the risk of developing the disease. Knowing the risk factors for kidney cancer may help you take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease. Risk factors include:

General

Age: The risk of developing kidney cancer increases with age. Kidney cancer is uncommon in people under age 45, with an average age of 64 at diagnosis.

Gender: Men are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer as women. 

Obesity: Excess weight, especially when caused by a high-fat diet, can increase a person’s kidney cancer risks.

High blood pressure: People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop kidney cancer.

Dialysis: People who receive long-term dialysis, which enables those without functioning kidneys to filter their blood through a machine, are more likely to develop kidney cancer.

Lifestyle

Smoking tobacco: The use of cigarettes, pipes and cigars can contribute to the likelihood of developing kidney cancer.

Occupational exposure: Exposure to asbestos and/or cadmium (a type of metal used in the production of batteries, plastics, and other industrial processes) may increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.

Genetics

Family history or inherited genetic syndromes: Kidney cancer risk factors increase for those who have a family history of the disease and those with the following inherited genetic conditions:

  • Von hippel-lindau disease, caused by a genetic mutation that causes tumors in the kidney 
  • Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, a hereditary form of kidney cancer that is usually seen in both kidneys 
  • Birt-hogg-dube syndrome, a skin disease that affects the hair follicles, which is associated with kidney tumors and air pockets in the lungs 
  • Hereditary renal oncocytoma, a type of kidney tumor that has a low risk of being malignant 
  • Hereditary leiomyoma renal cell carcinoma, a rare gene mutation that causes bumps on the skin, and in women, may cause large fibroids of the uterus

Learn more about genetic testing