Understanding risk factors of kidney cancer and how to prevent it

Although it is impossible to fully evade the risk of kidney cancer, certain lifestyle modifications can surely play a major role in reducing the risk factors

Creating awareness on kidney cancer.

Kidney are one of the most important organs of the body that plays a major role in keeping the balance of the body by removing all the toxins and wastes from the blood. If anything happens to the kidneys, the entire body will be out of balance and other organs are most likely to suffer. While there are many conditions that can affect the kidney and its functioning, kidney cancer is an emerging problem seen among people of different age groups.

Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common types of cancers that can affect both men and women. In adults, the most common type of kidney cancer is called renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also known as hypernephroma, in which the cancer cells grow uncontrollably in the lining of the tubules of the kidney. RCC is responsible for almost 180,000 fatalities per year on a global level. Apart from that, Wilms’ tumour, another type of kidney cancer, is more prevalent in young children.

Know the risks

Kidney cancer causes kidney cells to mutate which makes the cancer cells divide rapidly. Although the exact cause of kidney cancer is unknown, there are certain factors that play a major role in increasing the risk factors. Some of these include:

  • Smoking: It has been seen that smoking doubles the risk of kidney cancer in adults. A person who smokes on a regular basis is at a higher risk of this condition than the non-smoker.
  • Age: Older people are at a higher risk of this condition and as the age increases, the risk factors also increase. It has been seen that this condition is generally diagnosed between the age of 50 to 70 years.
  • Obesity: Being overweight not only invites other major health problems but also increases the risk of kidney cancer.
  • Hypertension: It is not only responsible for heart problems but also contributes to kidney cancer due to the side effects of the medications.
  • Kidney failure treatment: Long-term dialysis is linked to a higher risk of kidney cancer in people with chronic renal failure.
  • Family history: People who are born with certain inherited syndromes or a family history of renal problems are at a higher risk of kidney cancer.

Prevention

Although it is impossible to fully evade the risk of kidney cancer, certain lifestyle modifications can surely play a major role in reducing the risk factors. Some of these include:

  • Quit smoking: As smoking pushes a person towards kidney cancer, it is advised to stop this fatal habit. One may take help from doctors for medication or nicotine replacement products to quit this habit.
  • Manage a healthy weight: One must manage a healthy BMI to reduce the risk of kidney cancer and other health problems. If one is already suffering from obesity, it is advised to start physical exercises. One can also take help from experts to find out healthy strategies to lose weight.
  • Manage blood pressure: One must keep a check on the blood pressure levels daily. If a person is already suffering from high blood pressure, it is recommended to stick to the medications and bring lifestyle modifications.
  • Routine check-up: In most cases, kidney cancer turns fatal due to delay in treatment and diagnosis. Therefore, it is recommended to get into the habit of regular check-ups to detect any potential risk factors at the earliest.

The author is a Consultant, Urology, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram. Views are personal.

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