Wilms tumor is a cancer of the kidney. It is also known as nephroblastoma. It most often affects children between 3 and 8 years of age. Wilms tumor usually only affects one kidney, but it may affect both kidneys.
The kidneys are located on each side of the spine just above the waist. They make urine by filtering waste products from the blood. They control the balance of salt and water in the body and help regulate blood pressure.
The exact cause of this tumor is unknown. The tumor is linked with certain birth defects, such as problems with the genital or urinary tract, absence of the iris of the eye (aniridia), and hemihypertrophy (enlargement of one side of the body). It tends to run in families, and may be caused by changes in certain genes.
Your child may appear healthy or may have:
Wilms tumors can grow quite large without causing pain.
Wilms tumor may be hard to diagnose. Sometimes tumors are found when X-rays are taken for other reasons. Your child's health care provider will ask about symptoms and examine your child. The provider will want to know if there's a family history of cancer or birth defects of the genitals or urinary system.
Tests may include:
Your child may also have a chest X-ray or bone scan to find out if the cancer has spread beyond the kidneys.
Therapies for your child may include:
American Childhood Cancer Organization is a national support organization. It provides support for children with cancer and their parents. There are support groups for parents, funding for transportation, and send child cancer patients to special summer camps. Call 855-858-2226 or visit their Web site at http://www.acco.org/.