Wilms Tumor

Wilms tumor

(also known as nephroblastoma)

Wilms tumor is a type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidneys. It is the most common type of kidney cancer in children, accounting for about 9 out of 10 cases of pediatric kidney cancer.

Wilms tumor most commonly affects children ages 3 to 4 with the rate of occurrence dropping off drastically after age 5. Wilms tumors are typically unilateral, most often found only in one kidney, though there have been cases of both kidneys being affected.

Wilms tumors are grouped into 2 different types based on their histology (how a specimen looks underneath a microscope)

Types of Wilms tumors:

  • Favorable histology – These tumors do not have anaplasia and patients with favorable histology have a high chance of being cured.
  • Anaplastic histology – These tumors have anaplasia, in which the cancer cells look distorted and the cells’ nuclei tend to be large and irregular. Tumors with anaplasia that has spread throughout the tumor are more difficult to treat than tumors with limited anaplasia.

What are the symptoms of Wilms tumor?

As with many cancers, symptoms of Wilms tumor can vary to an individual level, but most children with Wilms tumor will experience a handful of similar symptoms.

Common symptoms include:

  • An abdominal mass
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal pain

Are there any known risk factors?

Wilms tumor is slightly more common in females than in males. African-American children possess a slightly higher risk of Wilms tumor than other ethnicities. Any family history of Wilms tumor also increases the risk of developing the disease.

Wilms tumor cannot be prevented by any specific precaution. If your child has risk factors for Wilms tumor, it may be recommended by your doctor to screen for any signs or abnormalities.

How are Wilms Tumors Treated?

About 9 out of 10 children with Wilms tumors are cured. Great strides in Wilms tumors treatment have been made in recent history due to a high participation in clinical trials aimed at increasing the cure rate while also decreasing side effects and lessening the physical toll on patients.

Children with Wilms tumors usually get some combination of treatments, typically surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation.


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