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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Kidney cancer risk factors

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

Knowing the risk factors for kidney cancer may help you take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

cancer risks

Overview of kidney cancer risk factors

Some common risk factors for kidney cancer include:


  • 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.


  • 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) can increase the risk of developing kidney cancer.


  • 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 – this type of kidney tumor has a low risk of being malignant.
    • Hereditary leiomyoma renal cell carcinoma – this rare gene mutation causes bumps on the skin, and in women it can cause large fibroids of the uterus.
Last Revised: 10/09/2015

Understanding risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.

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