Skip to Content

Wilms' Tumor Diagnosis

In many cases, parents are the ones who discover the tumor when it grows large enough to be seen or felt. Imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scans, ultrasound or chest X-rays may be used to confirm the doctor's suspicions, but very few of them are found in early stages when they are smaller.

Other tests may be used to see if the tumor has spread or to determine the best treatment approach.

Second Opinions at MD Anderson

The pathologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging XXX cancers, and we welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Wilms' Tumor Staging

(source: National Cancer Institute)

The process used to find out if cancer has spread outside of the kidney to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment. In addition to the stages, Wilms' tumors are described by their histology.

The histology (how the cells look under a microscope) of the tumor affects the prognosis and the treatment of Wilms' tumor. The histology may be favorable or anaplastic (unfavorable). Tumors with a favorable histology have a better prognosis and respond better to chemotherapy than those with anaplastic histology. Tumor cells that are anaplastic divide rapidly and do not look like the type of cells they came from. Anaplastic tumors are harder to treat with chemotherapy than other Wilms' tumors at the same stage.

The following stages are used for both favorable histology and anaplastic Wilms' tumors:

Stage I: The tumor was completely removed by surgery and all of the following are true:

  • Cancer was found only in the kidney and did not spread to blood vessels of the kidney.
  • The outer layer of the kidney did not break open.
  • The tumor did not break open.
  • A biopsy of the tumor was not done.
  • No cancer cells were found at the edges of the area where the tumor was removed.

Stage II: The tumor was completely removed by surgery and no cancer cells were found at the edges of the area where the cancer was removed. Before the tumor was removed, one of the following was true:

  • Cancer had spread out of the kidney to nearby soft tissue.
  • Cancer had spread to blood vessels of the kidney.

Stage III: Cancer remains in the abdomen after surgery and at least one of the following is true:

  • Cancer spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen or pelvis (the part of the body between the hips).
  • Cancer spread to or through the surface of the peritoneum (the layer of tissue that lines the abdominal cavity and covers most organs in the abdomen).
  • Chemotherapy was given before surgery and a biopsy of the tumor was done during surgery to remove it.
  • The tumor broke open before or during surgery to remove it.
  • The tumor was removed in more than one piece.

Stage IV: Cancer has spread through the blood to organs such as the lungs, liver, bone, or brain, or to lymph nodes outside of the abdomen and pelvis.

Stage V and those at high risk of developing Wilms' tumor: Cancer cells are found in both kidneys when the disease is first diagnosed.

If your child has been diagnosed with Wilms' tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • The Children's Cancer Hospital is within the No. 1 cancer center in America
  • Access to novel therapies and state-of-the-art technologies before most children's hospitals
  • We see more types of cancer than any other children's hospital in Texas
  • Family-centered care that actively involves parents in their child's treatment
  • A strong cancer research program focused on developing new therapies for pediatric patients
  • Comprehensive support services such as an accredited school program, creative arts, child life and career counseling
  • An Adolescent and Young Adult Program that specializes in the unique medical and psychological needs of patients aged 15-25

Wilms' Tumor Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Childhood Wilms' tumor is treated in our:

Find Your MD Anderson Location

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center