Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus may increase the risk of renal cell cancer (RCC), according to results published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
The kidneys are filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood; this process removes waste and makes urine. RCC is a malignancy involving these tubules of the kidney. It is the most common type of kidney cancer. RCC is more common among men than women and slightly more common in African Americans versus Whites. Factors that increase the risk of developing RCC include smoking, obesity, problems with blood pressure, and a family history of RCC.
Chronic hepatitis C is an infectious disease that affects the liver. Although often asymptomatic, chronic hepatitis C patients may experience cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, and liver cancer. In addition to affecting the liver, the hepatitis C virus can also affect other organ systems including the kidneys. A link between chronic hepatitis C and the development of RCC has not previously been established.
In this study, researchers evaluated data from 67,063 patients tested for hepatitis C from 1997 to 2006. Patients were monitored for the development of RCC until 2008. Of the 67,063 patients, 3,057 were positive for hepatitis C.
- 0.6% of hepatitis C-positive patients developed RCC versus 0.3% of hepatitis C-negative individuals
The researchers concluded that patients with chronic hepatitis C infection are at an increased risk for developing RCC. Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings. Although RCC is rare, chronic hepatitis C patients and healthcare professionals should be aware of this risk.
 Gordon SC, Moonka D, Brown KA, et al. Risk for Renal Cell Carcinoma in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2010:19;1066.
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