Epidemiology and aetiology

Renal cancers are more common in men (1.9% of male cancers) than in women (1.2%) and increase in frequency with increasing age, being most common in the sixth, and eighth decades. There has been a slow increase in the incidence over the past 10 years. Approximately 65% of patients die of their disease.

The most important aetiological factor is smoking. A higher incidence of renal carcinoma has also been reported in urban dwellers, workers in the petroleum industry, and in the obese. Chronic renal dialysis is a risk factor, as is analgesic abuse.

Over 98% of adult renal cancers are sporadic, but an inherited predisposition occurs in the von Hippel-Lindau familial cancer syndrome (1/36 000 births) and in the rarer hereditary papillary renal carcinoma syndrome.

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