Wilms’ tumor


Wilms’ tumor, also known as nephroblastoma, is a type of cancer of the kidney that rarely occurs but mostly affects children from 3 to 4 years old. It rarely occurs beyond 5 years old. It is usually detected in one of the kidneys but can also occur on both simultaneously.

Latest technologies in diagnosing and treating Wilms’ tumor have been greatly developed and have helped with the prognosis of the disease in children. Treatment options for Wilms’ tumor include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Moreover, if the right treatment is applied, the outcome will be very positive.


Although some children do not manifest any signs and symptoms but these are the ones to watch for:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • A mass in the abdomen that can be felt
  • Swollen abdomen

More signs and symptoms that may occur:

  • Fever
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Nausea or/and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blood in the urine
  • Hypertension

If these symptoms occur, consult your doctor.


The cause of Wilms’ tumor is unknown, but it could be hereditary. Meanwhile, cancer develops when the cell’s DNA undergo a mutation that results to uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells and outlive the normal cells.

Although rare, parents may pass on their DNA that may have the mutation related to Wilms’ tumor.

Risk factors

The following are the risk factors that may develop Wilms’ tumor:

  • African American are commonly affected by Wilms’ tumor while Asian-American are less likely to develop the disease.
  • Heredity. A family history of having Wilms’ tumor is more likely to develop the disease.

Children who were born with these syndromes are associate with Wilms’ tumor. These abnormalities may include:

  • Aniridia. The iris of the eye has no color or just partly pigmented.
  • Hemihypertrophy. One side of the body is bigger than the other side.

Some syndromes which rarely occur may be related to having Wilms’ tumor such as:

  • WAGR syndrome. This condition may have abnormalities such as Wilms’ tumor, aniridia, abnormalities in the urinary system and genitals, and intellectual disabilities.
  • Denys-Drash syndrome. This condition may have abnormalities such as Wilms’ tumor, kidney disease and an abnormality where a male baby has a testicle at birth but shows female features which is called male pseudohermaphroditism.
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.  In this condition, the child appears to be bigger in size than other children (macrosomia). Furthermore, it may manifest a bigger tongue, bulging of the organs underneath the umbilical cord, ear problems and larger internal organs. Also, there is a chance to develop a tumor or a hepatoblastoma (a type of liver cancer).