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Wilms' tumour

AGE  Usually develops before the age of 5GENDER  Not significant factors
LIFESTYLE  Not significant factorsGENETICS  Sometimes runs in families

Wilms' tumour is a rare cancer of the kidney, also known as a nephroblastoma.

Wilms' tumour
© Jupiter

Wilms' tumour is a rare type of kidney cancer, affecting fewer than 8 in 100,000 children. The tumour commonly develops before the age of 5, and it may be present at birth. Usually, one kidney is affected, but in about 1 in 10 children with the disease tumours occur in both kidneys. Wilms' tumour sometimes runs in families, but the cause is unknown.

What are the symptoms of wilms' tumour?

A tumour may be large before symptoms appear. Symptoms may include:

  • Obvious swelling in the abdomen.
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort.
  • Occasionally, blood in the urine.

A child with these symptoms should be seen by a doctor immediately.

What might be done?

The doctor will examine your child and test a urine sample for the presence of blood. If the doctor suspects that there is a tumour in the kidney, further tests will be necessary. Ultrasound scanning or CT scanning of the kidneys may be performed. Other tests, such as a chest X-ray, may also be carried out to check if the cancer has spread elsewhere in the body.

Surgical removal of the affected kidney is the usual treatment for Wilms' tumour. The remaining healthy kidney can easily perform the work of both. To destroy any remaining cancerous cells, an affected child may have radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. In rare cases in which both the kidneys need to be removed, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary. Treatment has a high success rate, and about 8 in 10 affected children are free of the cancer after 5 years.

Posted 09.09.2010

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