Kidney cancer, which is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women, starts in the kidneys when cells in the body begin to grow out of control.

The kidneys are a part of the urinary system, attached to the upper back wall of the abdomen and protected by the lower rib cage. As a part of the group of organs that remove waste from the body through urine, the kidneys filter and clean one’s blood to remove waste and extract water from the body, also making hormones that help to control blood pressure and to aid the body in making more red blood cells.

Risk factors, such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and workplace exposures, may increase an individual’s chance of receiving a diagnosis of kidney cancer. Additionally, a family history and genetic or hereditary risks, such as von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube (BHD) syndrome and Cowden syndrome, as well as mutations or defects in MET, FH, SDHB, SDHD, TSC1 and TSC2, may also increase someone’s risk for the disease.