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Wilms' Tumor

Our Approach

MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital is one of the nation's foremost treatment and research facilities for Wilms' tumors. When your child is a patient here, we customize a plan of action that includes the most advanced therapies with the least impact on the body.

Our renowned experts, including medical, surgical and radiation oncologists and pathologists, work as a highly specialized team to ensure your child receives the best opportunity for successful treatment. They are supported by a focused staff that includes nurses, physician assistants, therapists, social workers and others.

Personalized, Expert Care

This group of professionals follows your child from day one through survivorship. This continuity of care and close communication means comprehensive treatment and follow-up for your child.

Surgical expertise is important to Wilms' tumor treatment. The surgeons at Children's Cancer Hospital are among the best in the nation. They see a higher number of Wilms' tumor patients than most surgeons, giving them an incredible level of skill and expertise. This can make a big difference in the outcome of your child's treatment.

In addition, we offer a number of clinical trials of innovative agents. Some of them are available only at Children's Cancer Hospital. Our active research program is results oriented, evidenced by the fact that we discovered the first successful chemotherapy (vincristine) for children with inoperable Wilms' tumor.

Treating the Whole Child

Children's Cancer Hospital is designed just for children, with a full range of services and amenities that help make the child and family's experience as comfortable as possible. We go beyond medical care to deliver a comprehensive experience that treats the whole child.

And at Children's Cancer Hospital, your child benefits from the resources and expertise of one of the nation's top cancer centers.

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?

  • Team approach to customized care for Wilms' tumor
  • Advanced surgical expertise
  • Clinical trials of innovative treatments for Wilms' tumor
  • Pioneers of chemotherapy for Wilms' tumor
  • Comprehensive support services for child and family

Wilms' Tumor Knowledge Center

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Wilms' Tumor Facts

Wilms' Tumor is a rare type of kidney cancer that affects children. It also is called nephroblastoma.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 500 children, most between ages 2 and 5, are diagnosed with Wilms' tumor each year in this country. While it is rare, it is the most common type of kidney cancer in children.

If Wilms' tumor is found and treated in the early stages, the chances for successful treatment are as high as 95%.

The disease is named after the German doctor who discovered it in 1899, Max Wilms.

Kidneys Have Many Functions

The body has two kidneys. They help filter the blood and get rid of excess water, salt and waste. They also help control blood pressure and regulate red blood cells production. While kidneys are important, most people can live healthy, active lives with just one kidney.

Problems that cause Wilms' tumor may begin before birth. As kidney cells mature in the fetus, they become specialized and form different parts of the kidney. Some of the cells continue developing after birth and mature over the next three or four years.

However, in children with Wilms' tumor, the cells remain immature. They begin to grow and reproduce too quickly, forming a tumor.

Tumors Can Grow Large

Wilms' tumor generally forms one tumor in one kidney. In rare cases, there may be more than one tumor in one kidney or tumors in both kidneys.
Because they grow rapidly and often don't have early symptoms, Wilms' tumors may be large when they are found. Sometimes they spread to other parts of the body, particularly the lungs.

Types of Wilms' Tumors

Wilms' tumors can be classified into two categories depending on how they appear when they are examined with a microscope.

Favorable histology: Almost all Wilms' tumors are this type. The cells are slightly abnormal. Chances for successful treatment are good.

Unfavorable histology (anaplastic Wilms' tumor): The cell area that holds the DNA is large and distorted, or anaplastic. Anaplastic tumors are more difficult to treat successfully.

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.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center