Wilms Tumor in children: Overview of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
- Posted on- Aug 13, 2015
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Wilms Tumor, also known as nephroblastoma, is a rare form of kidney cancer that mainly affects children. About 9 of 10 kidney cancers in children are Wilms tumors. The cancer often affects children ages 3 to 4 and becomes much less common after age 5.
Most Wilms tumors affect only one kidney, though it can sometimes be found in both kidneys at the same time.
Wilms tumors often go unnoticed before they become quite large. Thankfully, they are detected before they have spread to other organs. When looked under a microscope, Wilms Tumor can be classified into favorable histology and unfavorable histology.
Common signs of Wilms Tumor
Wilms tumors can be difficult to find initially because they only depict symptoms when they grow very large. Children with Wilms tumor show the following symptoms:
In some cases, Wilms tumors can cause high blood pressure
. This happens because in rarest of rare cases blood pressure can get high enough to cause problems such as headaches
, bleeding inside the eye
, or even a change in consciousness.
Diagnosis of Wilms Tumor
There are various options for a doctor to detect Wilms tumor
in your child including:
- A physical examination: In a full body checkup, the doctor will look for potential symptoms of Wilms tumor.
- Blood and urine tests: These tests may not detect Wilms tumor, but they can give the doctor a clear idea of your child’s overall health.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests that create images of your child's kidneys can help the doctor determine whether your child has a kidney tumor. The tests may comprise ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Surgery: When all of the above options fail to detect Wilms tumor, the doctor may recommend removing the tumor or the entire kidney to determine if the tumor is cancerous. The removed tissue is analyzed in a laboratory to determine the presence of cancer.
Treatment options for Wilms tumor
Wilms tumor has a high cure rate. Your doctor will help you choose the right treatment option based on your child’s cancer type
, age and preferences:
- Removing part of the affected kidney: The procedure involves removal of the tumor and part of the kidney tissue surrounding it. It is usually done when the cancer is small.
- Removing the affected kidney and surrounding tissue: In this procedure, doctors remove the kidney and surrounding tissues, including the urethra and adrenal gland. The leftover kidney does the job.
- Removing all or part of both kidneys: If your child's cancer affects both kidneys, the surgeon works to remove as much cancer as possible from both kidneys. If both kidneys require removal, then kidney transplant may be an option.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Once administered through a vein or taken in pill form, chemotherapy drugs enter the bloodstream and kill cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used post surgery to kill any cancer cells that weren't removed during the operation.
Since most children have had a kidney removed, blood and urine tests
will be done to check how well the remaining kidney is working. Your doctor will certainly up a follow-up schedule for your child’s regular monitoring