Risk Factors and Symptoms

It’s important for people to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors for kidney cancer, particularly those individuals with a family history of the disease.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for kidney cancer include:

  • Smoking – Smokers develop kidney cancer more often than nonsmokers do
  • Obesity
  • Workplace exposure to some industrial chemicals, including the solvent trichloroethylene, aristolochic acid, and the metal cadmium
  • Gender – Men develop kidney cancer at nearly twice the rate women do
  • Age – The average age of people diagnosed with kidney cancer is 64
  • Advanced kidney disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Genetic conditions that can lead to familial renal cancer, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary papillary renal-cell carcinoma, hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal-cell carcinoma, Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome and, as discovered by our own investigators, germline BAP1 mutations


Early-stage kidney cancer doesn’t always exhibit symptoms. People who do have symptoms with kidney cancer may experience:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Non-injury-related pain in one side of the lower back
  • A lump on the lower back or side
  • Unexplained fatigue or weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Prolonged and unexplained fever

See a doctor if you experience symptoms of kidney cancer.

When appropriate, patients can meet with our clinical geneticists, who can help determine if there is a familial risk for kidney cancer that could affect relatives.

If you are diagnosed with the disease, UT Southwestern’s Kidney Cancer Program offers a range of the most advanced treatments and technological innovation.

Request an Appointment

To schedule a visit with a kidney cancer specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.