Kidney cancer: the causes

Kidney cancer can have several causes, several origins. In the majority of cases, it is a primary cancer of a kidney.

But sometimes, a cancer develops because of one or more metastases: cancerous cells coming from another organ (cancer of the lung, prostate, pancreas ...) colonized one of the kidneys, even both (rare!).

Kidney cancer is most often a primary cancer. Abnormal cancer cells develop in one of the two kidneys. For the origins of primary cancer of the kidney, it is better to speak of risk factors than of causes, strictly speaking. Because the exact mechanisms of the appearance of a cancer of the kidney, have not been elucidated.

Risk factors for kidney cancer included:

  • The tobacco. As with bladder cancer, this is one of the first risk factors.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Obesity and sedentary lifestyle A diet too rich in fat.
  • Heredity.
  • Von Hippel Lindau disease (VHL).

In 85% of cases, it is a clear cell kidney cancer with 4 subtypes. These subtypes differ according to the genetic and biological characteristics of each tumor.

Von Hippel Lindau disease (VHL)

When kidney cancer is diagnosed in a young person, or when the tumors are bilateral, Von Hippel Lindau's disease should be considered. This is a rare genetic disease. It can cause tumors in the pancreas, adrenals, kidneys, central nervous system and retina. This is the mutation of the VHL gene of chromosome 3. This disease is rare, but not exceptional, since it affects, in France, one person out of about 38, 000.

Other rare diseases can cause kidney cancer, such as tuberous sclerosis in Bourneville, where there are eye, kidney, heart, nervous and dermatological problems.

Apart from that, Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a congenital vascular malformation.

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