Wilms tumor is a solid cancerous tumor that may affect one or both kidneys. It may also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Named after Max Wilms, a German doctor who described the condition in 1899, Wilms tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children, and the fourth most common type of childhood cancer. Around 500 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Wilms tumor can occur at any age and is equally common in boys and girls. It is usually diagnosed in children around 3 years of age. It is more common in African-Americans than in Caucasians and is less common in Asian children.
There are often no symptoms for Wilms tumor until the cancer is advanced and the tumor is large. You or your child may feel or see a firm lump, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms of Wilms tumor include:
It is uncommon for Wilms tumor to run in families. There are no known environmental risk factors, although more research is needed. For most children, there is no known cause, although children with certain syndromes are more likely to develop Wilms tumor. These syndromes include:
The outlook for survival depends on the extent of the condition and how aggressive the cancer is. For most patients, long-term survival is excellent. Eighty-five to 90 percent of Wilms tumor patients who have less aggressive cancers are cured with treatment. Patients with more aggressive tumors require more intensive treatments. All patients require long-term medical follow-up care for chronic medical problems such as high blood pressure.
If your child has symptoms of Wilms tumor, a pediatric oncologist at Riley at IU Health can schedule the following studies and procedures to make a diagnosis:
Wilms tumor may be treated with one or a combination of the following:
Visit the trusted websites below to learn more about Wilms tumor:
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
The Cancer & Blood Diseases Department at Riley at IU Health is actively involved in research for Wilms tumor. We are part of the Children’s Oncology Group Phase 1 & Pilot Consortium, which is working to find better treatments for childhood cancer, including Wilms tumor. Ask your child's doctor for more information about our current research studies and clinical trials.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.