Renal Cell Carcinoma: Diagnosis and Management

Richard E. Gray, DO; Gabriel T. Harris, MD


Am Fam Physician. 2019;99(3):179-184. 

In This Article

Risk Factors

Risk factors for renal cell carcinoma include hypertension, tobacco use, obesity, and acquired cystic kidney disease in the setting of end-stage renal disease.[1,3,6] Occupational exposure to trichloroethylene can lead to the development of renal cell carcinoma and increased mortality from renal cell carcinoma.[5,7–9] The International Agency for Research on Cancer labels trichloroethylene as carcinogenic to humans and specifically associates it with renal cancer.[10] Occupational exposure to trichloroethylene is most commonly encountered by mechanics, dry cleaners, oil processors, polyvinyl chloride manufacturers, and low-nicotine tobacco producers.[8]

There are 10 familial syndromes that confer greater risk of developing renal cell carcinoma.[11] The most common of these is von Hippel-Lindau disease which leads to the development of clear cell renal cell carcinoma through the activation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).[11]Approximately 60% of sporadic clear cell renal cell carcinomas follow the same pathogenesis. This discovery has led to the development of new therapies that inhibit VEGF receptors and are being used to treat heritable and sporadic cases of clear cell renal cell carcinoma.[11,12]