Wilms tumor – also known as nephroblastoma – is a kidney cancer that predominantly affects young children (under age 5). It is the most common form of childhood kidney cancer. While the tumor is generally only found in one kidney, it can appear in both kidneys at the same time. With early detection, the survival rate for patients with Wilms tumor is 90%.
At the Solid Tumor Oncology Program, part of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, we provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children with Wilm's tumor and other renal masses or kidney tumors.
Our dedicated team of specialists evaluates your child in a single visit, and will create a customized treatment plan and begin your individualized treatment plan immediately. We are one of the first in the nation to offer this type of collaborative care for children with cancer. We are also one of the nation’s largest multidisciplinary programs caring for children with solid tumors, and have the largest pediatric oncology research effort in the state.
Our Tumor Board meets weekly to discuss the care and treatment of children who are newly diagnosed with cancer, those currently on therapy, and families seeking a second opinion. Pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians attend the Tumor Board, allowing for our collective expertise to provide thorough, comprehensive approach to the care of children with cancer.
Wilms Tumor Symptoms
Not every child with Wilms tumor will have symptoms. Symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Palpable abdominal mass
- Loss of appetite
- High blood pressure
- Blood in the urine
Diagnosing Wilms Tumor
Diagnosing Wilms tumor begins with a thorough health history and performing a comprehensive physical examination. Some testing will be required and may include blood work, a urine test, an abdominal x-ray, an abdominal ultrasound, a CT scan, and an MRI.
If Wilms tumor is the diagnosis, your doctor will stage the tumor, which determines if and how far the cancer has spread. Staging the tumor will help determine a treatment plan.
Wilms Tumor Treatment
Every child’s treatment plan is individualized, based on the patient’s needs and the specific tumor, utilizing cutting-edge technology and the latest research. Treatment options include:
Surgery – the standard therapy for treating Wilms tumor is surgery to remove the tumor. There are surgical options, including:
- Simple nephrectomy – removing the kidney.
- Partial nephrectomy – removing the tumor and some surrounding tissue (used when the other kidney has already been removed or is not healthy enough on its own).
- Radical nephrectomy – kidney, tissue and some lymph nodes surrounding the tumor are removed.
Surgery to remove tumors is performed by our renowned pediatric general surgery team, each of whom specializes in minimally invasive approaches to tumor resection whenever possible. Learn more about pediatric surgery at Mott Children’s Hospital.
Chemotherapy – following surgery, chemotherapy is generally recommended. Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy includes a variety of drugs that are given in a variety of ways. We provide all available chemotherapy options, including continuous infusion chemotherapy, which is given slowly over one or more days through a pump that you carry with you.
Radiation therapy – this cancer-killing therapy may be added to the chemotherapy treatment plan if needed. Radiation is the use of high-energy radiation, primarily X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Our safety record for the administration of radiation is unsurpassed and our faculty includes nationally recognized experts in the safe delivery of radiation therapy. We have developed our own computer software for intensity modulated radiation therapy, have been treating patients with stereotactic radiosurgery for more than 15 years, and have an established stereotactic body radiation program. Learn more about radiation therapy at Mott Children’s Hospital.
Clinical trials – Our specialists are at the center of developing new therapies for cancer. In fact, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of only a few pediatric centers in the country providing patients access to Phase 1 clinical trials. Phase 1 clinical trials give patients at University of Michigan access to pivotal early-stage studies, connecting families to novel treatment therapies to patients before they are widely available.
At any time, you can ask your doctor or any of our health care professionals about clinical trial participation opportunities or you can view or sign up for studies that are currently recruiting participants at UMclinicaltrials.org.