Wilms’ tumour is a rare type of kidney cancer that mostly affects children. It is the most common type of kidney cancer in children, also known as nephroblastoma. Wilms’ tumour most commonly affects children aged three to four years of age, and it becomes much less common after the age of five.
Wilms’ tumour is most commonly found in one kidney, but it can occasionally be found in both kidneys at the same time which is called bilateral Wilm’stumor.
Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of Wilms’ tumour have greatly improved the outcome (prognosis) for children with this disease over the years. Most children with Wilms’ tumour have a very good prognosis, almost 90% of them can be cured if they are diagnosed at an early stage and receive appropriate treatment.
The signs and symptoms of a Wilms’ tumour vary greatly, and some children show no obvious signs at all except for abdominal swelling. However, the majority of children with Wilms’ tumour exhibit one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
It is unknown what causes Wilms' tumour, but mostly due to changes in multiple genes.Only 1-2% of cases can be hereditary. Cancer develops when cells' DNA becomes faulty. The errors allow the cells to grow and divide inexorably, allowing them to live when other cells would die. A tumour develops from the accumulation of cells. This process occurs in the kidney cells of Wilms' tumour.
Wilms' tumour can appear as part of a number of rare syndromes, including:
The following tests are done to diagnose a Wilms tumour:
Once your child has been diagnosed Wilms tumour, it is necessary to find out the extent of cancer (stage) as treatment and outcome varies according to the stage of the disease. A chest CT scan, or PET CT scan is recommended to determine the stage of the disease.
Wilms' tumour is typically treated with Chemotherapy and surgery, and in some cases, radiation therapy as well. All patients should receive chemotherapy first as per SIOP guidelines astumor size is reduced with chemotherapy and surgery become much easier to do without any tumor spillage. Duration of chemotherapy and number of drugs used depend on the final stage of the disease.Treatments may differ depending on the stage of cancer. your child's doctor may advise you to seek treatment at a children's cancer centre with experience of treating such small children with cancer.