Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

What are the risk factors for renal cell cancer?

The exact cause of renal cell cancer is unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of the disease. These risk factors, according to the American Cancer Society, are as follows:

  • Smoking – doubles the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Asbestos – studies show a link between exposure to asbestos and kidney cancer.
  • Cadmium – there may be a link between cadmium exposure and kidney cancer. Cadmium may increase the cancer-causing effect of smoking.
  • Family history – increases a person’s risk.
  • Gender – men are twice as likely to develop renal cell cancer than women.
  • von Hippel-Lindau syndrome – this syndrome is a disease caused by a gene mutation that increases the chances of renal cell cancer.
  • Tuberous sclerosis – patients who have this disease are more likely to develop renal cell cancer.
  • Diet – a high-fat diet increases a person’s risk of kidney cancer.
  • Obesity – increases a person’s risk of kidney cancer.
  • Long-term dialysis – patients who have been on dialysis for a long time may develop kidney cysts, which may be one cause of renal cell cancer.