The causes and risk factors of kidney cancer


The causes of the onset of kidney cancer have not been clearly identified.

On the other hand, doctors are very familiar with the risk factors* for the development of kidney tumours. There are also a number of mechanisms of onset that are rarer for this form of cancer. Specialists have observed an increase in the incidence of kidney cancer in Western countries, and lifestyle is said to be blamed.

Most of the people affected develop primary cancer in one kidney. The cancer cells originate in the kidney tissues and form the tumour.


Kidney cancer is rare, and difficult to diagnose. On the other hand, three main risk factors are at the origin of the tumours found in kidneys. The order of the following factors does not correlate with the frequency of the risk.

First risk factor: male gender

Kidney cancer affects twice as many men as women.

Second risk factor: age

Kidney cancer is diagnosed in people aged 65 years on average. Only 20% of the people affected by this form of cancer are under the age of 50 years.

Third risk factor: smoking

The fact of smoking cigarettes considerably increases the risk of developing kidney cancer. The probability of a smoker being affected by this form of cancer is almost twice as high as that of a non-smoker. The greater the consumption of tobacco, the higher the risk.


Other risk factors have been identified. Specialists have observed an increased risk if the patient combines several factors. For example, a smoker has a greater probability of developing kidney cancer if he suffers from obesity and/or high blood pressure. The other risk factors are:

- high blood pressure

- obesity

- sedentary lifestyle

- heredity

- Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome

Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome leads to the development of tumours in a variety of potential organs, including the kidneys. VHL syndrome is rare, but affects young kidney cancer patients.

For further information about the causes and risk factors for kidney cancer:

Last updated: 12/12/2018

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