Wilms' Tumor

What is Wilms' tumor?

Wilms' tumor is a type of kidney cancer, also known as nephroblastoma, which primarily affects children. Wilms' tumor can occur in one or both kidneys, and multiple tumors may be present.

Wilms' tumor is named after a German physician named Max Wilms.

What are the different types of Wilms' tumor?

Wilms' tumor is typically classified in one of two ways based on how the cells appear microscopically. Wilms' tumor is either considered to have favorable histology or unfavorable histology.

Tumors with unfavorable histology account for only 10 percent of Wilms' tumors. Tumors with unfavorable histology are considered to have anaplasia. The more anaplasia present in a tumor, the more difficult it can be to cure.

What are the symptoms of Wilms' tumor?

Many children with Wilms' tumor do not display symptoms. Instead, the tumor is discovered when it has grown to a significant size and is felt through the child's abdomen.

The symptoms that are commonly associated with Wilms' tumor include:

  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Blood in the urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

The symptoms associated with Wilms' tumor are also associated with other common conditions. If you are concerned about symptoms your child is experiencing, schedule a consultation with your family doctor or pediatrician.

What are the causes and risk factors of Wilms' tumor?

The exact cause of Wilms' tumor remains unknown; however, some medical and genetic conditions may be linked to the condition. These conditions may include:

  • WAGR syndrome
  • Denys-Drash syndrome
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome

Like many other types of childhood cancer, kidney cancer in children is not strongly linked to environmental or lifestyle factors.

How is Wilms' tumor treated?

Treatment for Wilms' tumor is individualized, meaning that each patient has a unique treatment plan. Kidney cancer in children is often treated differently than it is in adults. Aspects of each patient's treatment plan depend on the histology and stage of Wilms' tumor, as well a number of other factors about the patient, such as age and overall health. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. In some cases, physicians may recommend a kidney transplant.