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Predisposing Factors/Prevention

Updated 3 July 2007

The incidence of renal cancer is relatively high in B.C. at 11.7/100,000 in males and 7.4/100,000 in females.

Cigarette smoking increases risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) as well as cancers of the renal pelvis and ureter although the relative risk even in heavy smokers is modest at about two-fold (McLaughlin et al 1996). Use of several drugs appears to increase risk of all kidney cancers. These drugs include phenacetin containing compounds and diuretics. However since diuretics are commonly used by hypertensives, further study is necessary to evaluate whether high blood pressure rather than use of diuretics might contribute to the elevated risk. Obesity, in particular in females, also seems to be associated with a higher risk.

Several inherited forms of renal cell carcinoma have been described. The most common inherited RCC syndrome is the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease​, which is characterized by a germ-line mutation in the VHL gene and predisposition to angiomas, CNS hemangioblastomas, pheochromocytomas and clear-cell RCCs. Other hereditary forms of RCC include hereditary papillary renal carcinoma (HPRC), hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC), the Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome (BHD), familial clear cell carcinomas with a constitutional chromosome 3 translocation as well as a non-syndromic familial clear cell RCC.


Elimination of cigarette smoking appears to be the most promising way to reduce the incidence of kidney cancer. No screening or early detection maneuvers are available at present.


  1. McLaughlin JK, Blot W, Devesa S, Fraumeni JF Jr. Renal cancer. In Schottenfeld D, Fraumeni JF Jr. (Eds) Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention ; 1996. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Pp 1142-1155.

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