Kidney Tumors (Wilms)

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What are Kidney Tumors?

Kidney tumors are not common in children.  When they do occur they are often very treatable.  The most common types of kidney tumors in children are Wilms’ Tumor, renal cell carcinoma, and congenital mesoblastic nephroma.

Wilms’ Tumor: This is the most common type of kidney tumor in children.  It most frequently occurs in young children around 3-4 years of age.

Renal Cell Carcinoma: This tumor is rare in young children, but after the age of 10 it becomes more common than Wilms’ Tumor in children.

Congenital Mesoblastic Nephroma: This tumor is most common in the first few months of life. 

What are the symptoms?

Often kidney tumors are felt as a lump in the child’s abdomen (belly).  This may be noticed during bathing or on routine check-up by your pediatrician.  Sometimes a child may have blood in the urine, pain in the abdomen, lack of appetite, weight loss, constipation, or high blood pressure.

How are kidney tumors diagnosed?

Kidney tumors are diagnosed with radiographic studies.  Usually the first study is an ultrasound and then often a more detailed study like an MRI or CT scan is performed.

How are kidney tumors treated?

The main treatment for all types of kidney tumors is surgery.  Often the entire kidney is removed; however, sometimes just the tumor is taken out.  Additional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation may be necessary depending on the type of tumor and whether or not the tumor has spread outside the kidney.

What happens after treatment?

What happens after treatment depends on the type of tumor and whether the tumor spread.  Children are monitored with radiographic studies, usually ultrasound and MRI, after treatment.

Children who required chemotherapy or radiation for their tumors may be at risk for the development of cancers (secondary malignancies) in other places later in life such as bone, breast, and thyroid.  There may also be effects on fertility (ability to have children) due to radiation and chemotherapy.

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