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The most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell cancer, a cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products from the body. Renal cell cancer accounts for more than nine out of 10 cases of kidney cancer.  In Los Angeles County in an average year, about 5,000 people will be diagnosed with kidney cancer. Of those, 1,160 will die.

Controllable Risk Factors
Oncologists don’t know what causes kidney cancer. However, there are certain risk factors that can be controlled. They include:
  • Smoking - Cigarette smoking increases risk by about 40%. This risk drops some if you stop smoking.
  • Weight - A very overweight person is at much higher risk.
  • Exercise - Several studies have found that people who do not exercise are at increased risk.
Other Risk Factors
  • Inherited risk factors - Some people inherit a tendency to get certain types of cancer.
  • Family history – Those with family members who have kidney cancer, especially a brother or sister, are at higher risk.
  • High blood pressure – Hypertension increases risk. Doctors don’t know if it’s the high blood pressure or the drugs used to treat it that increases risk.
  • Kidney disease – Those with advanced kidney disease who need dialysis are at increased risk.
  • Gender - Kidney cancer is found about twice as often in men as in women.
Many kidney cancer cases can be prevented by the following:
  • Stop smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get treatment for high blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid exposure to harmful substances such as cadmium, asbestos and organic solvents in the workplace.

Treatment options include surgery to remove all or part of the kidney, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormone therapy. Two targeted therapies, Sutent and Nexavar, recently were approved to treat kidney cancer. UCLA researchers also are testing the drug Avastin in kidney cancer.

Sources: American Cancer Society, California Cancer Registry

Last updated: 7/10/2008 10:52:44 AM