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Building on basics

Facts about kidney cancer

Kidney cancer is a relatively rare disease that nonetheless causes more deaths than those caused by melanoma, colorectal or uterine cancer. Men get renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer, twice as often as do women. It's rare in people under age 35.

Smoking is the main risk factor for kidney cancer, almost doubling a person's chances. Other factors include family history and exposure to cadmium, asbestos and gasoline. Some studies show a link between obesity and a high-fat diet and renal cell carcinoma.

Blood in the urine is the most common symptom. Other signs are low back pain not caused by injury, a mass or lump in the belly, tiredness and rapid, unexplained weight loss.

Kidney cancer is usually treated by surgery. When surgery is performed on a person whose cancer is confined to the kidneys, the survival rate is 70 to 95 percent. If the disease has advanced past the kidneys or has metastasized to another part of the body, it is very hard to treat.


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