Chronic Kidney Disease & Cancer Are Connected

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cancer are proved to be connected in a number of ways, and the connection is in both directions. Cancer can cause CKD either directly or indirectly, CKD may conversely be a risk factor for cancer.

  • Paraneoplastic nephropathies are well-known complications of cancer.

“Nephropathy” means kidney disease. The term “paraneoplastic” means that the kidney disease is not caused by the tumor itself, but by the immunological reactions that the tumor produces. It is believed that the body’s normal immunological system interprets the tumor as an invasion. When this occurs, the immunological system mounts an immune response, utilizing antibodies and lymphocytes to fight the tumor. The end result is that the patient’s own immune system can cause damage to the kidney.

  •  CKD often occurs after chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Many chemotherapy drugs cause renal damage. The Chemotherapy Source Book and Shands Cancer Center list cisplatin, cytarabine, gemzar, cytoxan, ifosfamide, alimta, streprozocin, methotrexate, carboplatin, mitomycin C and oxaliplatin as commonly causing renal damage. Chemotherapy agents are designed to kill cancer cells but also affect normal cells in the body.

During cancer radiation therapy, the machine is using high energy beams and the body is exposed to high levels of radiation. These high levels of radiation are meant to damage cancer cells eventually destroying them – unfortunately – both healthy and cancerous cells get destroyed.

Kidney damage results if enough cells are killed or damaged with the administration of chemotherapy. The damage may be temporary or permanent.

  • Certain toxins are risk factors for both CKD and cancer.

Toxins, such as analgesics and aristolochic acid, can induce both chronic interstitial nephritis and urothelial cancers.

  • Cancer risks after dialysis and kidney transplantation rise.

Studies showed that, compared with the general population, transplant recipients have a three- to four-fold overall increased risk of cancer.

Studies also showed that compared to the general population, cancer risk of end-stage CKD patients was indeed increased 10% and 20% in Europe and the US, respectively. Cancers most strongly associated with dialysis included Kaposi sarcoma and tumors of the oral cavity, kidney, bladder, stomach, liver, lung, cervix and thyroid.

More studies are on the connection of cancer and early-stage kidney disease.


* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.