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Wilms' tumor

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A Wilms' tumor, also called a nephroblastoma, is a type of kidney cancer which usually affects young children. Usually children will be diagnosed between the ages of 3-4, and if the cancer is found early, the survival rate is as high as 95%.

 

A Wilms' tumor will usually develop in one of the two kidneys, however in rare circumstances, the cancer can be found in both.

 

What are the types?

 

There are two main types of Wilms' tumors:

  • favorable histology
  • unfavorable histology (anaplastic)

Favorable histology

 

In cases that are favorable histology the cancerous cells will appear slightly different than healthy cells and are usually very treatable.

 

Unfavorable histology

 

Unfavorable histology means that the cancer cells are very abnormal and have mutated much further from a normal, healthy cell. Unfavorable histology (an anaplastic Wilms' tumor) is more difficult to treat.

 

Which children are more at risk?

 

Things that may put your child at risk for Wilms' tumor are the child

  • being a girl
  • being black
  • having a genetic birth defect such as syndromes called WAGR, Beckwith-Wiedemann and Denys-Drash

 

There are also other birth defects and genetic conditions that can make your child more succeptible to kidney cancer, so if your child does have a birth defect, ask your doctor about your child's risk of being diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor.

 

How can I check if my child has this?

 

To diagnose a Wilms' tumor, the child's doctor will most likely do a blood and urine test to check how well the kidneys are working.

 

If these tests come back abnormal, then the doctor may ask for imaging scans such as a CT, or an MRI to get a better look at the kidneys and check for cancerous masses.

 

Staging a Wilms' tumor

 

Staging cancer for Wilms' tumors is slightly different to other cancers because it ranges from 1-5 rather than 1-4.

 

While in stage 1 the cancer is confined to the affected kidney, in stage 4 the cancer has moved beyond the kidney into other organs in the body. Stage 5 in kidney cancer means that the cancer is in both kidneys rather than just one which can be more difficult to treat.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment for Wilms' tumor cancer almost always includes surgery. The surgery can be to remove only part of one kidney, a whole kidney, or part or both complete kidneys.

 

If both kidneys are removed then the child would either need kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.

 

Other treatment can include both chemotherapy and radiation. Both chemo and radiation can be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor in order to have a more successful operation, or after surgery to ensure that all of the cancer cell have been killed. Sometimes both chemo an radiation will be used together to make the treatment more effective.

 

If other treatment is not successful, there are also clinical trials that you can look into for children with Wilms' tumor, so ask your doctor for information on the latest trials if you fall into this category.

 

Talk to me.

 

A Wilms' tumor, also called a nephroblastoma, is a type of kidney cancer which usually affects young children. Usually children will be diagnosed between the ages of 3-4, and if the cancer is found early, the survival rate is as high as 95%.

 

A Wilms' tumor will usually develop in one of the two kidneys, however in rare circumstances, the cancer can be found in both.

 

What are the types?

 

There are two main types of Wilms' tumors:

  • favorable histology
  • unfavorable histology (anaplastic)
Graphic representation of Wilms' tumor

Favorable histology

 

In cases that are favorable histology the cancerous cells will appear slightly different than healthy cells and are usually very treatable.

 

Unfavorable histology

 

Unfavorable histology means that the cancer cells are very abnormal and have mutated much further from a normal, healthy cell. Unfavorable histology (an anaplastic Wilms' tumor) is more difficult to treat.

 

Which children are more at risk?

 

Things that may put your child at risk for Wilms' tumor are the child

  • being a girl
  • being black
  • having a genetic birth defect such as syndromes called WAGR, Beckwith-Wiedemann and Denys-Drash

 

There are also other birth defects and genetic conditions that can make your child more succeptible to kidney cancer, so if your child does have a birth defect, ask your doctor about your child's risk of being diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor.

 

How can I check if my child has this?

 

To diagnose a Wilms' tumor, the child's doctor will most likely do a blood and urine test to check how well the kidneys are working.

 

If these tests come back abnormal, then the doctor may ask for imaging scans such as a CT, or an MRI to get a better look at the kidneys and check for cancerous masses.

 

Staging a Wilms' tumor

 

Staging cancer for Wilms' tumors is slightly different to other cancers because it ranges from 1-5 rather than 1-4.

 

While in stage 1 the cancer is confined to the affected kidney, in stage 4 the cancer has moved beyond the kidney into other organs in the body. Stage 5 in kidney cancer means that the cancer is in both kidneys rather than just one which can be more difficult to treat.

 

Treatment

 

Treatment for Wilms' tumor cancer almost always includes surgery. The surgery can be to remove only part of one kidney, a whole kidney, or part or both complete kidneys.

 

If both kidneys are removed then the child would either need kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant.

 

Other treatment can include both chemotherapy and radiation. Both chemo and radiation can be used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor in order to have a more successful operation, or after surgery to ensure that all of the cancer cell have been killed. Sometimes both chemo an radiation will be used together to make the treatment more effective.

 

If other treatment is not successful, there are also clinical trials that you can look into for children with Wilms' tumor, so ask your doctor for information on the latest trials if you fall into this category.

 

Symptom list:

Wilms' tumor

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Financial support

Not all of us are able to afford the treatment we need. Search your insurance coverage, or check out what charities may be able to offer you for your condition.

p.s. Just because you have insurance, that doesn't mean that charities or other organizations are not able to support you too.

Emotional support

Whether it's a free counseling session or to find someone with a similar diagnosis, these Germie approved charities might be able to help. Click to explore their offerings!

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