Wilms Tumor


Wilms Tumour

Wilms tumor, a type of tumor found mainly children, usually (but not always) forms on only one kidney. It’s almost always diagnosed before the age of 10. It’s a little more common in girls than boys.

What is Wilms tumor?

Wilms tumor is a kidney tumor found almost always in children. This condition represents nearly 90% of kidney tumors in children. In some cases, Wilms tumor is part of a group of conditions that are present at birth. These are called congenital syndromes.

Wilms tumor is also called Wilms’ tumor or nephroblastoma. Usually, there is only one tumor on one kidney, but there can sometimes be tumors on both kidneys (bilateral) or more than one cancerous spot on one kidney.

What types of congenital (present at birth) syndromes are often found with Wilms tumor?

Very rarely, people with Wilms tumor also have other congenital syndromes. Some of these syndromes include:

  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome: Children with this syndrome have a 5% to 10% risk of developing Wilms. This syndrome is classified as an overgrowth syndrome — body parts grow larger and one side of the body doesn’t always match the other side.
  • WAGR syndrome: Children with this syndrome have about a 50% chance of developing Wilms tumor. (The “W” in the name stands for Wilms.) Other complications include lack of an iris in the eye (Aniridia) and Genital or the Renal issues.
  • Denys-Drash syndrome (also known as Drash syndrome): Children with this grouping of medical conditions have a 90% chance of developing Wilms. Other issues involve their genitals and kidneys.

What are the signs and symptoms of Wilms tumor?

Signs and symptoms of Wilms tumor include:

  • A swollen spot or hard lump in your child’s abdomen (stomach area). The lump or swelling can be painful, but it’s usually not.
  • Pain in their abdomen.
  • Blood in their urine (hematuria).
  • Fever.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension). This in turn may cause your child to have nosebleeds, headaches and blood in their eye.

How is Wilms tumor diagnosed?

If you’ve found a lump near your baby’s diaper line, or you’ve had to move to bigger diapers because of the lump, we may decide to test for Wilms tumor. 

Tests to diagnose Wilms tumor include:

  • A physical exam that includes pressing down carefully on your child’s abdomen.
  • Imaging tests like abdominal ultrasound, CT scan – usually with contrast. We might order an X-ray or CT scan of your child’s chest to find out if cancer has spread (metastasized) to their lungs. Imaging tests can show if your child has a tumor. We can also use the tests to tell the difference between Wilms tumor and other types of kidney cancer.
  • Laboratory tests of blood and urine, including liver function and blood clotting tests.
  • A biopsy, which means that tissue from the tumor is removed and sent to the laboratory for testing.

How is Wilms tumor treated?

Wilms tumor is almost always treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes, treatment will include radiation therapy.

Many children with low-risk tumors are treated with surgery alone if the tumor hasn’t spread and can be taken out completely. Sometimes, your child may be treated with chemotherapy before surgery to make the tumor smaller and surgery safer.

Most chemotherapy is given through a vein (intravenously or I.V.). It can happen on an outpatient basis or in a hospital.

Your child may have side effects from the chemotherapy or radiation. If so, be sure to tell us. There are things you can do or medicines your child can take to lessen side effects.

Is Wilms tumor deadly?

Although Wilms tumor can be treated successfully by a combination of surgery and chemotherapy and/or radiation, it’s still cancer. It can still be fatal.

What’s the difference between Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma) and neuroblastoma?

Although the two terms look similar, they refer to cancer that starts in two different kinds of cells. Nephroblastoma is kidney cancer. Neuroblastoma is a cancer that starts in nerve cells, often in the adrenal glands but may invade a kidney. Both types of cancer affect children and both may show up as swollen spots in the abdomen.

Questions or concerns?

If you have additional questions, we’re here for you. Call or WhatsApp us and we’ll answer all your questions.