The cause of upper tract tumors is unknown. A personal history of bladder cancer is the primary risk factor. Smoking cigarettes is also a major risk factor. Smoking may contribute to as many as 60-80% of cases.
Other risk factors include the following:
- Balkan descent
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Family history of transitional cell carcinoma
- Genetic mutation of the p53 gene
- Overuse of analgesics that contain phenacetin
- Recurrent kidney stones
- Use of chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide
People who work in chemical, petroleum, aniline dye, and plastics industries, and those exposed to coal, tar, and asphalt, also have an increased risk for upper tract tumors. Consuming more than seven cups of coffee a day may slightly increase the risk for the condition.