Skip to main content

Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins Pediatric

Kidney Cancer and Race


Alam, Elias, Singla: Socioeconomic factors and differences in inherited gene mutations contribute to the racial gap in kidney cancer survival.

Why are Black patients more likely than White patients to die of kidney cancer? Nirmish Singla, M.D., M.Sc., Director of the Kidney Cancer Program, is leading research efforts to find out more.

In a recent analysis using the National Cancer Database, Brady resident Ridwan Alam, M.D., M.P.H., Singla, and colleagues showed that socioeconomic factors such as educational level, income, neighborhood, occupation, and housing status significantly influence survival. “Targeting these social factors may help close the racial gap in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) survival,” says Alam. The team’s paper has been published in Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations. 

In another study, medical oncology fellow Roy Elias, M.D., Singla, and colleagues found racial differences in inherited gene mutations among patients with clear cell ccRCC. “We performed comprehensive (whole exome and transcriptome) sequencing on tumors from matched Black and White patients who underwent surgery at Johns Hopkins,” Elias says. “In patients of European ancestry, mutations in VHL and PBRM1 were more common. But in patients of African descent, KMT2C mutations were more common. These mutations affected how the disease manifested and progressed.” Elias presented these results at the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago.  

Notes Singla, the senior author of both studies: “Taken together, our findings may inform prognostic differences among racial groups, help guide personalized therapy, and identify actionable strategies to improve outcomes among patients with RCC.” These investigations were made possible by generous support from Brady Advisory Board member and philanthropist Chad Holliday.

© The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. All rights reserved.