According to an article recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a family history of kidney cancer increases risk of developing the disease, particularly among individuals who have a sibling diagnosed with kidney cancer.

The kidneys are each filled with tiny tubules that clean and filter the blood-the process that removes waste and makes urine. Renal cell cancer (RCC) is a cancer involving these tubules of the kidney.

Researchers from Europe recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate potential genetic links to the development of RCC. By determining a possible increased risk in developing the disease due to a strong family history, healthcare providers could identify patients who would benefit from screening measures to detect and treat the cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages.

The study included 1,097 individuals with kidney cancer and 1,555 individuals without kidney cancer; participants were recruited from the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Russia between 2000 and 2003.

  • The risk of an individual being diagnosed with kidney cancer was increased with an increasing number of relatives who had been diagnosed with any type of cancer.
  • Patients had a 60% increased risk of developing kidney cancer if they had at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with the disease. This association was greatest among individuals who had a sibling with kidney cancer.

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The researchers concluded that “80% of the kidney cancer cases are likely to occur in 20% of the population with the highest genetic risk.” These results are significant because they may help identify individuals at a high risk for developing kidney cancer.

Individuals who have at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with kidney cancer may wish to discuss their individual risks of developing the disease with their physician, along with potential screening measures.

Reference: Hung R, Moore L, Boffetta P, et al. Family history and the risk of kidney cancer: a multicenter case-control study in Central Europe. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 2007; 16:1287-90.

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