Hepatitis C infection increases the risk of developing kidney cancer, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital.

The study, led by Stuart Gordon, MD, Director of Hepatology at Henry Ford Hospital, analyzed data from more than 67,000 patients in the Henry Ford Health System and discovered that after controlling for age, gender, race, and underlying kidney disease, hepatitis C-infected patients had nearly double the risk of developing kidney cancer. Over an 11-year period, 0.6% of patients with hepatitis C infection developed kidney cancer compared to 0.3% of patients without the disease who developed kidney cancer.

Additionally, researchers found that the average age of HCV-positive patients with kidney cancer was significantly younger than the age of HCV-negative patients with kidney cancer.

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“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,” said Dr. Gordon. “However, a heightened awareness of an increased kidney cancer risk should dictate more careful follow-up on incidental renal defects when detected on imaging procedures in patients with chronic hepatitis C.”

The findings were published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (2010;19(4):1066-73).