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VICTIMS OF DIESEL EXPOSURES

Kidney Cancer

Published on May 31st, 2019 by Andrew L. Hughes

Kidney cancer occurs when kidney cells acquire a mutation in their DNA and begin to grow and duplicate quickly. This excess of cells can spread to other parts of the body if not controlled.

Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, making up about 90 percent of all kidney cancer cases. There are several different subtypes of renal cell carcinoma, which are important to diagnose in order to decide which path of treatment is best for individual cancer. These subtypes include clear cell renal cell carcinoma, papillary renal cell carcinoma, and chromophobe renal cell carcinoma.  The rarer forms of kidney cancer can often be more difficult to attribute to workplace exposures.

There are several risk factors that can increase one’s chances of getting kidney cancer, including workplace exposures to toxins. Other risk factors for kidney cancer include significant smoking history, high blood pressure and obesity.

Kidney Cancer and Diesel Exposures

Many studies have suggested that exposure to certain substances in the workplace increases one’s risk of kidney cancer. Some of these substances include diesel fuel, cadmium, asbestos, benzene, and organic solvents like trichloroethylene.

Long-term exposures to gasoline and diesel exhaust have been proven to increase the risk of kidney cancer. Exhaust exposure can be particularly high for workers who spend their days around vehicles and gas-powered machines, with exposure being even greater when there is no proper ventilation of the workplace.

Other Toxins that Cause Kidney Cancer

Cadmium is a component of diesel fuel, gasoline, and lubricating oils that are often found in industrial workplaces. Cadmium is a silver-white metal typically emitted when coal and oil are burned.  Cadmium is a Group 1 carcinogen per the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Coke ovens emit cadmium. Many studies have thus found that workers at steel mills utilizing coke ovens are at an elevated risk of kidney cancer.

Benzene, another Group 1 carcinogen, is a widely used industrial chemical that is (or was once) used as a base ingredient in solvents, degreasers and lubricants.  Benzene is also found in diesel fuel. In a 2006 study analyzing kidney cancer and industrial solvents, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that workers with a history of benzene exposures via skin contact and inhalation of industrial solvents were at a significantly elevated risk for kidney cancer.

Asbestos exposures can also lead to kidney cancer.  Asbestos can be found in insulation, cement, paint, and other materials. Asbestos attacks the membrane surrounding the kidney, therefore allowing some forms of kidney cancer the opportunity to spread throughout the abdomen. Because of this, asbestos can be considered a known contributor to kidney cancer.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is another trigger of kidney cancer. TCE is an organic chemical that is used in industrial workplaces to degrease metal parts and make other chemicals. In workspaces where TCE is used, the risk of kidney cancer is increased.  Locomotive machinists, diesel mechanics, and railroad car department employees are at elevated risk for kidney cancer via their long-term exposures to TCE.

Silica exposures, often in combination with one of the other toxins listed above, have also been connected to an elevated risk of kidney cancer.  In addition, Fiberglass, mineral wool and brick dust, while inhaled, have been shown to lead to kidney damage that in turn elevates the risk for kidney cancer.

As indicated above, Diesel Injury Law will perform a thorough intake of your past exposures and determine on a case by case basis which exposures could have contributed to the kidney cancer.

Importance of Kidney Cancer Screenings

Kidney cancer rarely causes symptoms in its early stages, and currently, there are no routine tests to attempt to diagnose kidney cancer before symptoms occur. Kidney cancer can start to show signs of development through blood in your urine, pain in your back or side that doesn’t go away, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and intermittent fever.  

Tests to diagnose kidney cancer include blood and urine tests, imaging tests, (CT scans and MRIs) and biopsies of kidney tissue. Once diagnosed, radiation therapy, surgery, and alternative nonsurgical treatments can be used to treat cancer and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. Success rates of treatment depend on the specific stage of cancer at diagnosis, as well as the patient’s other contributing risk factors.

Contact a Diesel Injury Lawyer

If you believe you are suffering from kidney cancer due to diesel exhaust or other toxic exposures, our team at Diesel Injury Law can fight on your behalf. Contact us today to get started.

Illustrative Kidney Cancer Results

$8,000,000 verdict – plaintiff, an able-bodied seaman who worked aboard tanker ships, was diagnosed with kidney cancer after being exposed to petroleum products containing benzene. The jury found that the plaintiff’s cancer was a direct result of his employer not providing him a safe place to work.  Plaintiff lost a kidney as a result of cancer. (Shelby v. Seariver Maritime,)

$3,000,000 verdict – Plaintiff worked as an electrician for Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp. and was exposed to asbestos-containing products, which eventually led to plaintiff’s kidney cancer.  (Arthur James Dougherty Jr. & Joan Dougherty vs. Owens Corning Fiberglass)

Case Dismissal – Plaintiff alleged his kidney cancer was directly related to exposure to chemicals, degreasers, solvents and exhausts while working for CSX railroad. The court dismissed the case, however, because the plaintiff did not file it within the statute of limitations period. (Willie Parham vs. CSX Transportation Inc.)

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