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Wilms' Tumor (Pediatric)

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What is Wilms’ tumor?

Also called nephroblastoma, Wilms’ tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer found in children. Nearly 500 children in the United States are diagnosed with this condition each year. It usually involves only one kidney, but in a small number of cases, it may be bilateral and affect both kidneys. 

The etiology of Wilms’ tumor is unclear, however, in some cases a random change or mutation in a child’s genes may be present. Approximately 1-2 percent of children with this tumor have a family member or relative with the condition.

Interestingly, about 15 percent of children diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor have congenital anomalies present at birth such as: 

  • Reproductive or urinary problems
  • Hemihypertrophy (one side or part of the body is larger than the other.)
  • Microcephaly (child’s head is abnormally small.)

What are the symptoms of Wilms’ tumor?

Symptoms of this condition are:

  • Painless lump or mass in the abdomen 
  • Blood in the urine
  • Anemia along with unusual bleeding or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Fever

How is Wilms’ tumor diagnosed?

Diagnosis of this condition entails:

  • Radiological imaging including an ultrasound of the abdomen
  • CT scan and an MRI of the abdomen
  • Biopsy 

What is the treatment for Wilms’ tumor?

Tumors are grouped into two major types based on how they look under a microscope (favorable and unfavorable), helping us to decide a therapy plan. Treatment consists of: 

  • Surgery to remove the tumor
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy (if necessary) to shrink the tumor