Wilms tumor is the most common form of childhood kidney cancer

Although a strong link exists between Wilms tumors and some genetic mutations and birth defects, the cancer also develops randomly.

What is Wilms tumor?

Norton Children’s Cancer Institute

Our team of pediatric hematology/oncology specialists treat different types of kidney cancer in children, including Wilms tumor.

Wilms tumor is a type of cancer that starts in the kidneys. It is the most common form of kidney cancer in children.

According to a new study, around 15% of children with Wilms tumor are genetically predisposed to the disease. Genetic testing is available to patients of Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

What causes Wilms tumor?

Around 1 in 10 children with Wilms tumor have a birth defect, and some inherited genetic changes have been connected to this type of kidney tumor.

“Although there is a strong link between Wilms tumors and some genetic mutations and birth defects, most children with this type of cancer do not have any known inherited conditions, and the cancer can develop randomly,” said Kerry K. McGowan, M.D., pediatric hematologist/oncologist with Norton Children’s Cancer Institute.

Syndromes linked to this cancer include WAGR syndrome, Denys-Drash syndrome, Frasier syndrome and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. Changes in specific genes, including the WT1, WT2, WTX and CTNNB1genes, are found on various chromosomes.

Symptoms of Wilms tumor

This type of cancer usually affects one kidney, but sometimes tumors can grow in both kidneys. A tumor can grow quite large before it is detected.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blood in urine (may appear pink)
  • A lump or nodule
    • Sometimes parents may feel one while bathing their child.
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Unexplained fevers
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Changes in appetite

Most children respond well to treatment, and many children are cured of the disease.

Norton Children’s Cancer Institute treats this type of cancer and is able to provide surveillance for children who are at risk of developing Wilms tumor and other cancers. If your child is exhibiting any symptoms, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your child’s provider.