There are over 7000 new cases diagnosed in the UK each year being found slightly more common in men in a ratio of 3:2. The highest levels in Europe appear in the Eastern European countries with the Czech Republic heading the list. The incidence appears to be increasing though a minority feel that it is just modern imaging techniques are picking up more tumours.
Smoking and obesity are associated with increased risk with higher levels in the north of the UK. Radiation for the treatment of cervical or testicular cancer increases the risk as the kidneys may be irradiated at the same time.
Slight increases risk is also associated with people who are having dialysis for kidney failure and long standing high blood pressure.
If a brother or sister has kidney cancer then there is an increased risk of four to seven times. The association with a parent who has had kidney cancer is not as clear . Some state the increased risk is somewhere between 1.6 and 4.0 while another has suggested no increased risk.
The fact that people with thyroid cancer have an increased risk of between 2-7 times suggest a genetic mutation common to both is responsible.
There are also certain cancer syndromes that run in families associated with chromosome or gene abnormalities.
Most studies have been unable to find any relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and the development of kidney cancer although two studies have suggested a possible link with lower vegetable intake.
Symptoms and signs
Blood in the urine may be the first presenting sign but only occurs in half of cases. Others may present with pain in the loin, a swelling in the abdomen, tiredness due to anaemia or unexplained weight loss. An unexplained high temperature or recent onset of high blood pressure can also be presenting signs.
Surgery is the treatment of choice. If there is evidence that the tumour has spread then biologic therapy may be offered. This differs from chemotherapy in that in slows down or prevents the formation of new blood vessels into the tumour. As a result, the tumour is unable to receive all the nutrients that it requires to grow.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are generally not used to treat kidney cancer as they are ineffective.