The rate of kidney cancer — also known as renal cell carcinoma — has been on the rise since the 1990s, possibly due to better and more accurate diagnostic techniques. The good news is that, when caught early, kidney cancer can be treated and even cured. The bad news is that kidney cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in its earliest stages.
Alex Lesani, MD, a compassionate and expert urologist, diagnoses and treats kidney cancer at his Las Vegas, Nevada facility. How likely are you to develop kidney cancer? The following are four factors that increase your risk.
1. You’re a smoker
You’re probably already aware that smoking tobacco raises your risk for lung cancer and heart disease. But smoking doubles your risk for kidney cancer and raises your risk for just about every other type of cancer, too.
Tobacco contains more than 60 carcinogenic (i.e., cancer-causing) chemicals, such as:
- Volatile organic hydrocarbons
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Aromatic amines
Nevertheless, within minutes of smoking your very last cigarette, your body starts to detox itself. Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Just 12 hours later, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood normalize, and within five years, you’ve halved your risk for many types of cancer.
If you need help quitting smoking for good, let Dr. Lesani know. He can refer you to an effective smoking-cessation program that helps you improve your overall health and reduce your risk for kidney cancer.
2. You’re obese or have high blood pressure
Being overweight or obese puts pressure on your cardiovascular system, which increases your risk for high blood pressure (HBP). If you’re lean, however, you might still have HBP due to high cholesterol, too much glucose in your blood, or other factors. High blood pressure damages your kidneys, which makes them more susceptible to cancer.
When you’re obese, you’re more likely to have increased levels of insulin and insulin growth factor-1, which may feed cancer cells. In addition to increasing your risk for kidney cancer, obesity raises your risk for other cancers, including breast and colorectal cancers.
When you consult with Dr. Lesani, he recommends dietary and lifestyle changes that will help you increase your overall health while decreasing your risk for kidney cancer. Losing weight and getting your blood pressure under control are two essential steps you can take.
3. You have a family history of kidney cancer
You’re more likely to develop kidney cancer if one of your parents, siblings, or children had kidney cancer. Your risk increases if other family members developed kidney cancer, including aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces and nephews, and cousins.
Be sure to let Dr. Lesani know if anyone in your family has had kidney cancer. He may recommend more frequent check-ups to be sure your kidneys stay safe, and he can also help you reduce or eliminate other risk factors.
4. You’ve been exposed to pesticides or other carcinogens
Living in urban areas or working with pesticides or chemicals increase your risk for kidney cancer. Some of the chemicals and substances that are associated with kidney cancer include:
- Welding materials
- Exhaust fumes
- Fungi and fungicides
Even if you’ve ruled out the top four factors that increase your risk for kidney cancer, you’re more likely to develop it the older you get. If you already have kidney disease, are on dialysis, or take certain medications, you’re at increased risk. Black people and men of any race are more likely to develop kidney cancer than are women or non-Black people.
Be sure to see your urologist every year for a exam, and call us as soon as you notice any unusual or troubling symptoms, such as:
- Dark, pink, brown, or red urine
- Persistent back pain
- Persistent pain in your side
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
Thanks to early detection and effective treatments, kidney cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 80%.
If you have the symptoms of kidney cancer or any other troubling urological symptom, call our helpful office staff at 702-470-2579, or book your appointment online.