Wilms’ Tumor

Wilms' Tumor
Wilms' Tumor

Overview Of Wilms’ Tumor

Wilms tumor (WT) is a type of kidney cancer that primarily occurs in children.

Commonly Associated With

Nephroblastoma; Kidney tumor – Wilms

Causes Of Wilms’ Tumor

WT is the most common form of childhood kidney cancer, although the exact cause of this tumor in most children is unknown. A missing iris of the eye (aniridia) is a birth defect that is sometimes associated with WT. Other birth defects linked to this type of kidney cancer include swelling of one side of the body (hemihypertrophy) and urinary tract problems.

WT is more common among some siblings and twins, which suggests a possible genetic cause. The disease occurs most often in children roughly 3 years of age, while more than 90% of cases are diagnosed before the age of 10. In rare cases, it is seen in children over the age of 15, as well as in adults.

Symptoms Of Wilms’ Tumor

Symptoms of WT may include any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal urine color
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • General discomfort or uneasiness (malaise)
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased growth on only one side of the body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling in the abdomen (abdominal hernia or mass)
  • Sweating (at night)
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)

Exams & Tests

When examining for WT, your health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your child’s symptoms and medical history. You will also be asked if you have a family history of cancer. A physical examination may show an abdominal mass, while high blood pressure may also be present.

Tests may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Abdominal x-ray
  • BUN
  • Chest x-ray or CT scan
  • Complete blood count (CBC), may show anemia
  • Creatinine
  • Creatinine clearance
  • CT scan of the abdomen with contrast
  • MRI
  • Intravenous pyelogram
  • MR angiography (MRA)
  • Urinalysis
  • Alkaline phosphate
  • Calcium
  • Transaminases (liver enzymes)

Other needed tests to determine if the tumor has spread include:

  • Echocardiogram
  • Lung scan
  • PET scan
  • Biopsy

Treatment Of Wilms’ Tumor

If your child is diagnosed with WT, do not poke or push on the child’s belly area. During bathing and handling, use care to avoid injury to the tumor site. The first step in the treatment of WT is to stage the tumor. Staging helps the provider determine how far a cancer has spread. In conjunction, it also helps the provider to plan for the best treatment.

Surgery to remove the tumor from the body is planned as soon as possible. If the tumor has spread, surrounding tissues and organs may also need to be removed. Depending on the stage of the tumor, radiation therapy and chemotherapy will often be started after surgery. Chemotherapy given prior to the surgery is also effective in preventing complications.