The investigation, conducted by doctors at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, used archived data from 1997 to 2008 on over 67,000 patients of the Henry Ford Health System. It discovered that 0.6 percent (17 of 3,057) of patients infected with the hepatitis C virus contracted kidney cancer. By contrast, just 0.03 percent (17 of 64,006) of uninfected patients contracted the cancer.
After factoring out variables relating to gender, age, race and already-present kidney disease, the researchers found that the risk of developing kidney cancer was nearly twice for those patients with hepatitis C than for those without.
“These results add to growing literature that shows that the hepatitis C virus causes disease that extends beyond the liver—and in fact most of our HCV-infected kidney cancer patients had only minimal liver damage,” commented Stuart C. Gordon, director of hepatology (kidney science) at Henry Ford Hospital and lead author of the study.
The findings, he said, point to the wisdom of testing newly diagnosed kidney cancer patients for HCV infection, which is curable more than 50 percent of the time and for which even better treatments are being developed. But he stopped short of recommending expanded testing of hepatitis C-positive patients for kidney cancer, which is one of the few malignancies that are increasing in frequency around the world.
“However, a heightened awareness of an increased kidney cancer risk should dictate more careful follow-up of incidental renal defects when detected on imaging procedures in patients with chronic hepatitis C,” he said.
Another detail discovered by the Henry Ford doctors was that kidney cancer patients with hepatitis C were considerably younger than uninfected kidney cancer sufferers. Most of the time, kidney cancer strikes older people