Asbestos Kidney Cancer

Asbestos exposure is a well-known cause of various cancers. Ample evidence exists to conclusively prove the link between asbestos and cancers in the lungs, heart and abdominal organs. Common asbestos-related diseases include lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural plaques as well as laryngeal and ovarian cancer. And asbestos exposure is the sole cause of four known types of mesothelioma cancer. Now, the evidence is being disclosed to show that asbestos also causes kidney cancer.

Get a Free Mesothelioma Guide

Kidney cancer is also called renal cell carcinoma. Kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs located on the upper back. They’re responsible for filtering toxins from the blood, removing waste and producing urine.

Renal disorders are quite common. Many people live comfortable lives after having one kidney removed after it was diseased. Or, sometimes they chose to donate a kidney for transplant to others in renal distress.

Some with kidney disease need both organs removed and go on to survive on dialysis machines while waiting for a transplant. That includes people who suffered direct kidney cancer or had their kidneys destroyed by other ailments including renal failure from stress caused by other cancers.

Those can be asbestos-caused cases of mesothelioma or indirect asbestos-related diseases.

Links Between Asbestos Exposure and Kidney Cancer

Until recently, little documentation existed on kidney cancer cases directly related to asbestos exposure.

That changed in 2016 after an Italian scientific journal called La Medicina del Lavoro published an article where a senior man passed away from cancer after having a prolonged asbestos exposure while employed decades earlier cutting asbestos cement panels. There was something different about the Italian case.

Although this particular man’s fatal cancer couldn’t be conclusively linked to asbestos exposure, an operation he had fourteen months earlier could. He’d been diagnosed with cancer in one kidney and had it surgically removed.

The organ was dissected at the time and histology showed it was contaminated with asbestos fibers. There seemed no doubt internal exposure to asbestos fibers caused this cancer.

Since this Italian report, other cases surfaced linking kidney cancer to asbestos exposure. One was a 2007 Japanese case noting the relationship between asbestos and renal cell carcinoma.

Something consistent between the Italian and Japanese reports was that these victims did not develop asbestos-related kidney cancer as the result of cancer metastasizing from other asbestos-caused cancers. They eliminated pleural, pericardial and peritoneal mesothelioma that is solely due to prolonged asbestos inhalation or ingestion.

Peritoneal mesothelioma relates to the abdomen lining. Asbestos fibers attack the membrane or mesothelium surrounding the lower thoracic or abdominal organs.

Kidneys are within this membrane boundary were not associated with asbestos fibers. Some kidney cancers were thought to have metastasized or resulted from peritoneal mesothelioma spreading in the abdomen.

Now, physicians and medical researchers are looking deeper into how asbestos exposure directly causes kidney cancer. It might also be a type of mesothelioma where asbestos fibers embedded in the kidney’s epithelial cells which is the organ’s lining.

Although epithelial cell cancer is the most common form of renal carcinoma, it’s extremely rare for asbestos fibers to be inside the kidneys. The mystery was in how they got there.

How Asbestos Fibers Cause Kidney Cancer

Asbestos fibers enter the body two ways.

By far, the most common method is inhaling airborne asbestos particles in a contaminated environment. That accounts for the highest percentage of asbestos exposure, and its a deadly form.

That’s because fine, microscopic fibers impale the lung lining or mesothelium. They remain in the mesothelium forever, building scar tissue masses that eventually turn into malignant tumors.

The other less-common entry point is by ingesting asbestos fibers into the digestive system. It’s so simple to swallow asbestos particles.

They’re nearly invisible and have no notable taste. Asbestos fibers are insoluble in water. They remain suspended and act similar to airborne particles which, once inside the body, attach to an organ’s lining.

Asbestos fibers can follow the digestive path and come to rest in the kidney’s lining where they also form scar tissue that turns tumorous.

Consider a typical workplace where asbestos dust was ever-present. Any worker could leave a beverage container open where airborne asbestos fibers could settle.

Dried receptacles were also prime asbestos-attracting targets only to be filled and letting suspended fibers wash down a worker’s throat. Open food containers were vulnerable, never mind the company water cooler.

Types of Asbestos Fibers Causing Kidney Cancer

Asbestos is the general term for a group of silicate minerals naturally found around the world.

There are two asbestos classifications.

  • Serpentine fibers: These fibers are soft and flexible. Chrysotile asbestos is the only fiber in this class and is the most common type of asbestos.
  • Amphibole fibers: There are five types of these fibers, and they’re much different in shape, hardness and piercing ability.

None of the scientific literature published on kidney cancer caused by asbestos identifies which asbestos class the culprit was. No medical authority today denies there is no safe exposure to asbestos. And all agree that amphibole fibers are more dangerous than chrysotile because of their spiky shape and lack of flexibility.

That makes a good case to suggest there’s a risk of kidney cancer when exposed to amphibole asbestos fibers.

Other Risks and Results of Asbestos-Caused Kidney Cancer

Exposure to asbestos fibers is the sole cause of every mesothelioma cancer form. Like all cancers, the risk of developing mesothelioma depends on an overall pattern or holistic picture of an individual’s circumstances.

Asbestos risk has several variables:

  • The dosage or number of asbestos fibers.
  • The duration or time length exposed.
  • The particular type of asbestos fibers.
  • The individual’s overall health.

These are well-known factors in mesothelioma cases. They’re well-documented and solidly supported. But renal or kidney cancer is a rare and different situation.

Other risk issues may be present like:

  • Age, sex, and genetic history.
  • Pre-existing kidney disease.
  • Obesity and diabetes.
  • Smoking and other carcinogen intakes.

Kidney cancer results are often positive, as long as there are early diagnosis and proper treatment. It’s the same with other early-stage mesothelioma cases. Time is of the essence. Once asbestos-related cancer reaches the later stages, the prognosis for survival is weak.

Surgery for lung, heart and abdominal mesothelioma is not possible for late-stage patients. However, there isn’t enough known about asbestos-caused kidney cancer to predict the results. The only thing for sure is that asbestos likely is a direct cause of kidney cancer.

Compensation for Mesothelioma Caused by Asbestos

Asbestos exposure results in mesothelioma. There’s good reason to suspect it also causes kidney cancer.

Late-stage mesothelioma is incurable, and the jury’s out on kidney cancer. There is nothing to be done except claiming compensation from negligent asbestos manufacturers and producers who supplied cancer-causing asbestos.

Many people with asbestos-related cancer have successfully claimed compensation from negligent suppliers. They’ve received funds for lost income, medical costs and personal injury damages.

Families of mesothelioma victims can also claim on their behalf and file lawsuits in wrongful death cases. Reach out to the Mesothelioma Cancer Network today for a free case review.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 7 Sources
  1. U.S. National Library of Health, “Asbestos and Kidney Cancer: The Evidence Supports a Causal Association” Accessed on December 16, 2017
  2. National Cancer Institute, “Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
  3. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration, “Asbestos Risks” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Health Effects from Exposure to Asbestos” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Investigating Cancer Risks Related to Asbestos and Other Occupational Carcinogens” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
  6. American Cancer Society, “Asbestos and Cancer Risk” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
  7. National Institute of Health, “Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma in Prior Asbestos Workers” Accessed on 16 December, 2017
Back to Top