Kidney cancer: facts & figures

Incidence in Minnesota:

Kidney cancer is increasing in Minnesota

Kidney cancer incidence has been increasing in Minnesota and nationally, though mortality has been stable. Kidney cancer is nearly twice as common in males as in females and is highest among American Indian and African American males in Minnesota. Rates of kidney cancer in Minnesota are similar to national rates except among American Indians, who have kidney cancer rates that are two times higher in Minnesota than nationally. From 2012 to 2014, approximately 387 new cases of kidney cancer in males and 279 new cases in females were diagnosed in Minnesota residents each year.

Incidence in Minnesota

Age-adjusted rates of new kidney cancer cases.
Age-adjusted rates of new kidney cancer cases.

Since 1988, incidence increased by about 2% per year among both sexes. Rates for males have seen a slight decrease of 1.8% per  year. Most recently, the age-adjusted incidence rate of kidney cancer was 24.8 new cases per 100,000 males and 11.3 new cases per 100,000 females.

Incidence in Minnesota, by age

Age-adjusted rates of new kidney cancer cases, aggregated from 2005 to 2014
Age-adjusted rates of new kidney cancer cases, aggregated from 2003 to 2012.

The rate of kidney cancer increases with age; the highest incidence rates occur among adults aged 70-79 years, in both sexes.

Incidence in Minnesota, by race/ethnicity

Age-adjusted rate of new kidney cancer cases, aggregated from 2004 to 2015.
Age-adjusted rate of new kidney cancer cases, aggregated from 2002 to 2011.

There are large differences in kidney cancer incidence between different racial and ethnic groups in Minnesota. From 2005 to 2014, the rate of kidney cancer was highest among American Indians (with about 36 new cases per 100,000 American Indians) and lowest among Asian/Pacific Islanders.

What is kidney cancer?

Kidney cancer is cancer that starts in the tissues of the kidneys or in the renal pelvis (the top part of the ureter, a tube that connects each kidney to the bladder). The kidneys are the organs in the body which filter waste products out of your blood and produce urine. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, which accounts for 90% of kidney cancers.

What are risk factors for kidney cancer?

  • Smoking causes approximately one-third to one-half of kidney cancers, and increases risk for many other cancers as well.
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) increases the risk of kidney cancer.  It is not known whether the cancer is caused by drugs used to treat hypertension or by the hypertension itself.
  • Race: kidney cancer is twice as common among American Indians compared to any of the other racial and ethnic groups. 
  • Occupational exposures: Occupationally-related risks for kidney cancers include exposure to certain dyes and organic solvents (such as trichloroethylene or TCE) as well as asbestos.

How can kidney cancer be prevented?

Don't smoke. Avoid tobacco smoke.  Maintaining a healthy weight and diet will reduce the likelihood of both hypertension and kidney cancer. Avoid known occupational exposures that increase the risk of kidney cancer with long-term, intense doses.