Causes and Risk Factors for Upper Tract Tumors

The cause of upper tract tumors is unknown. A personal history of bladder cancer is the primary risk factor.

Cigarette smoking is also a major risk factor. Smoking may contribute to as many as 60–80 percent of upper tract tumors.

Other risk factors include the following:

  • Age
  • 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.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015