Wilms’ Tumor

April 15, 2008 by  
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What is Wilms’ Tumor?

Primarily a childhood cancer, Wilms’ Tumor is a solid tumor or nephroblastoma found on the kidney. The disease was named after Max Wilms, a German physician who studied the tumor.

The tumor begins in utero when immature kidney cells do not develop properly and instead grow out of control into a mass on one kidney and sometimes both kidneys.

Wikipedia CT scan of Wilms’ tumor on the kidney of a 13 month old child.


  • This cancer affects 1 in 10,000 children yearly
  • Approximately 500 new cases are diagnosed each year
  • Rarely affects adults
  • 95% of all diagnosed cases are not hereditary
  • Peak occurrence time is age 3, and it is rare after age 8
  • Wilms’ Tumor has been associated with certain birth defects but no definitive cause has been found for the disease
  • In the U.S. there is a slightly higher occurrence rate in African Americans
  • The occurrence rate is slightly higher in girls than boys
  • 90% of all children affected are cured

Signs and Symptoms:

The tumor may go undetected or may be discovered on a routine physical exam. The Mayo Clinic lists symptoms that may bring the child to a physician’s office, including:

  • An abdominal mass
  • Fever
  • Blood in the urine
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • General discomfort (malaise)


After a physical exam, lab work will be done to check kidney function. Ultra sounds, x-rays and CT scans will be done to check kidney shape and distortion and to investigate possible metastasis. An intravenous pyelogram may be part of the diagnosis. This x-ray involves injecting a dye via an I.V. to record kidney function.

Staging of Wilms’ Tumor is done per the National Wilms’ Tumor Study Group (NWTSG) staging system.


Conventional treatment depends on the staging and type of tumor and involves surgery, chemotherapy and may include radiation. For more information, visit the American Cancer Society pages on Wilms’ Tumor treatment options.

For current available clinical trials for Wilms’ Tumor, visit the National Cancer Institute pages.


The National Cancer Institute PDQ on Wilms’ Tumor.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Wilms’ Tumor Information.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Wilms’ Tumor Information.

The National Wilms’ Tumor Study, late study effects group for patients enrolled in clinical trials ended in 2002.

Wilms’ Tumour Dot Com, a family created resources center on the web.

Battling Books:

The Official Parent’s Sourcebook on Wilms’ Tumor: A Revised and Updated Directory for the Internet Age

Childhood Cancer: A Parent’s Guide to Solid Tumor Cancers, 2nd Ed. by Honna Janes-Hodder and Nancy Keene.

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  2. kyle says:

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  3. Thanks for stopping by to comment. I appreciate it and hope all goes well for you niece.

  4. Kasia says:

    Thank for your informative site. It gave me the quick information and understanding I needed when I found out my niece had Wilms tumor.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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