Kidney Cancer

(Renal Cell Carcinoma)

Definition

Kidney cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the kidneys. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs. They are located just above the waist, on each side of the spine. Their main function is to filter the blood and produce urine. There are 2 main types of kidney cancer: Wilms tumor, which occurs mainly in children, and renal cell carcinoma in adults. The cells that line the ureter may also give rise to transitional cell cancer, and the connective tissues of the kidney may produce sarcomas, which are rare.
Cancer Cell Growth
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Causes

Cancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues. Cancer that has invaded nearby tissues can then spread to other parts of the body.It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment.

Risk Factors

Kidney cancer is more common in men, and in people over 50 years old. Other factors that may increase your risk for kidney cancer include:
  • Smoking
  • Family history of certain hereditary forms of kidney cancer
  • Obesity
  • Certain occupational exposures, such as asbestos and aniline
  • Tanning products
  • Exposure to some toxins, such as astrolachia, which is an herb that is common in some Chinese herbal preparations
  • Balkan nephritis
  • Chronic kidney stones
  • Phenacetin abuse
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Dialysis treatment
  • Von Hippel Lindau syndrome

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