Wilms tumor

Wilms tumor

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Wilms tumor| cancerGO

What is Wilms tumor?

Wilms tumor, also known as nephroblastoma, is a rare type of kidney cancer that mainly affects children. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of Wilms tumor.


The most common symptom of Wilms tumor is a painless swelling or mass in the abdomen. Other symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure

In some cases, the tumor may also cause a sensation of fullness or discomfort in the abdomen. However, not all children with Wilms tumor have symptoms, and the tumor may be detected during a routine physical exam.

Risk factors

The exact cause of Wilms tumor is unknown, but there are several factors that may increase a child’s risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Age: Wilms tumor is most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of five.
  • Genetic factors: Some genetic syndromes, such as WAGR syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, are associated with an increased risk of developing Wilms tumor.
  • Family history: Children who have a family history of Wilms tumor may be at a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Prenatal factors: Children who were born with certain birth defects or who were exposed to certain drugs or chemicals during pregnancy may have an increased risk of developing Wilms tumor.


Wilms tumor is usually diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, imaging tests, and biopsy. The doctor may perform a physical exam to feel for any lumps or swelling in the abdomen. Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, may be used to visualize the tumor and determine its size and location. A biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type and stage of the tumor.


The treatment of Wilms tumor depends on the stage and type of the tumor, as well as the child’s overall health. The main treatments for Wilms tumor include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Surgery is usually the first step in treatment and involves removing the tumor and sometimes the entire affected kidney. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery to shrink the tumor and kill any remaining cancer cells.

In some cases, a child may also receive targeted therapy, which involves using drugs that specifically target cancer cells. Targeted therapy may be used in combination with other treatments to improve their effectiveness

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

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