Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer
Risk factors are probable triggers that may increase your chances of contracting a disease like cancer. Every type of cancer has its risk factors. Some like smoking and alcohol consumption can be controlled, whereas factors like age, gender, and environmental triggers cannot be controlled.
However, only because you are exposed to certain risk factors does not necessarily mean that you may contract the disease. It is not always possible to pinpoint which risk factor has contributed to your disease unless it’s a glaring trigger.
What is Kidney Cancer?
Kidney Cancer accounts for about 3% of all registered cancers in India. It generally occurs after 50 years of age, with a male to female ratio of 3:1. The incidence of Kidney Cancer is gradually rising, owing to a change in lifestyle and food habits in urban cities.
Kidney Cancer occurs when the healthy cells in one or both kidneys grow rapidly and form a tumour, which is like a lump.
Renal Cell Carcinoma or RCC is the most common type of Kidney Cancer and occurs in the renal tubules which are tiny tubes in the kidney responsible for cleaning the blood and making urine. There are different types of RCC like clear-cell, chromophobe, and papillary renal cell carcinoma.
Kidney Cancer can be treated in multiple ways, depending on the type, size, and stage of your cancer. Most popular treatment methods include:
- Surgery, known as nephrectomy. The aim is to remove the tumour and nearby tissues
- Surveillance, in which some small abnormal areas in your kidney may be under observation to note if they change on CT Scan. It’s usually done for small lumps and if you have any other medical condition, in which case surgery needs to be avoided.
- Thermal ablation, in which heat is used to destroy the cancer cells, and usually done for small tumours
- Embolisation, which is done to block the flow of blood to the kidney and is a rarely adopted treatment method
- Biological Targeted Therapy, which are drugs that stop cancer from forming new blood vessels
After treatment, it is advised to go for follow-ups or routine checkups. If you experience any discomfort after your treatment, let your doctor know immediately.
What Are the Risk Factors for Kidney Cancer?
Medical experts have found several factors that may increase your likelihood of Kidney Cancer. The best way to prevent this disease from developing is by being aware and controlling our exposure to them.
Risk factors for Kidney Cancer can be divided into three categories - General, Genetics, and Lifestyle.
- Age: Kidney Cancer is prevalent in people above the age of 50, with an average diagnosed age of 60. Higher the age, higher the chances of developing Kidney Cancer.
- Gender: Kidney Cancer is more common in men than in women, with a ratio of 3.5:1.
- High Blood Pressure: People who have uncontrolled, high blood pressure are likely to be susceptible to Kidney Cancer.
- Dialysis: People who go through long-term dialysis for Kidney diseases are more likely to develop Kidney Cancer.
Kidney Cancer is attributed to certain genetic conditions and family history of Kidney Cancer. Genetic diseases such as:
- Von hippel-lindau disease, which is a condition caused due to a genetic mutation leading to kidney tumour
- Hereditary papillary renal cell carcinoma, which is another form of hereditary kidney cancer usually affecting both kidneys
- Birt-hogg-dube syndrome, which is a skin disease affecting our hair follicles, that may lead to the formation of air pockets in the lungs and tumours in the kidney
- Hereditary renal oncocytoma, which is low on malignancy
- Hereditary leiomyoma-renal cell carcinoma, which is a rare genetic mutation characterised by bumps on the skin or large fibroids of the uterus (in women)
- Tuberous Sceloris Complex (TSC) is a genetic mutation that leads to changes in your skin, brain, kidney, and heart and can increase your chances of developing Kidney Cancer
- Smoking: About 30% of Kidney Cancers in men and 25% in women are believed to have been the cause of cancer. Smoking pipes, cigars, and cigarettes greatly heighten your chances of developing Kidney Cancer
- Exposure to Hazardous Substances: A person exposed to hazardous substances like cadmium and asbestos, which are used in production factories for batteries and plastics can increase your risk of developing Kidney Cancer.
- Obesity and Poor Nutrition: Kidney Cancer has often been attributed to a high-fat diet. It can cause obesity and increase your chances of developing Kidney Cancer. Know how you can maintain a healthy weight here.
How Can You Prevent Kidney Cancer?
Although there is no proven method to avoid Kidney Cancer, a few simple lifestyle and diet changes can go a long way:
- Quit Smoking as it highly increases your chances of developing Kidney Cancer, and other life-threatening diseases. Here’s what happens to your body when you stop smoking.
- Lower Blood Pressure, because uncontrolled high pressure can damage, narrow, weaken, or harden the arteries around your kidneys and lead to kidney cancer.
- Maintain a healthy body weight, and eat fresh vegetables and fruits and drink lots of water. Cut on your fat intake and exercise regularly to keep your body healthy.
Kidney Transplant in India
People suffering from chronic kidney diseases of kidney cancer often require a Kidney Transplant to survive.
Statistics suggest that over 1,50,000 patients are waiting for a kidney transplant in India. However, only 1 out of every 30 patient actually receives a kidney donation. We rank 40th out of 69 countries in the number of transplants per million population.
Currently, India has an organ donation rate of 0.05 per million, and if we manage to increase the rate to even 1 per million, we can overcome the organ shortage in our country. Learn more about organ donation in India and come forward to save a life.
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