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Wilms' Tumor Treatment

Wilms' tumors are rare, and many cancer doctors see few – if any – cases throughout their careers. As part of one of the world's largest and most comprehensive cancer centers, MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital has a level of expertise and experience that can be found at few hospitals in the nation.

Our highly specialized experts personalize care to deliver leading-edge therapies with the least impact on your child's body – now and in the future. They take a team approach to ensure your child has the best chances for successful treatment.

Focused on Your Child

This remarkable team may include renowned oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists, all of whom specialize in the unique medical needs of children with cancer. They are supported by a specially trained group of nurses, therapists and other professionals.

This group follows your child from diagnosis through survivorship, keeping a constant eye on your child's health and quality of life.

Surgical Expertise is Key

Surgical skill is of the utmost importance when treating Wilms' tumors. Like all surgeries, the procedure is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular surgery.

Children's Cancer Hospital surgeons rank among the most skilled in the world. They have a high level of experience in Wilms' tumor surgeries, using the least-invasive and most-advanced techniques. We're at the forefront of discovering groundbreaking treatments for Wilms' tumor. This translates into a range of clinical trials for children with the disease.

Our Wilms' Tumor Treatments

Your child's doctor will design a course of treatment especially for your child and discuss suggestions for treatment. The age and health of your child and how advanced the cancer is will help determine the type of treatment.

Wilms' tumor is almost always treated with more than one type of treatment – usually surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to make the tumor smaller before surgery. If cancer cells remain after surgery, radiation therapy may be used.

One or more of the following approaches may be used to treat the cancer or help your child feel better.


The main goal of surgery to treat Wilms' tumor is to remove as much of the main tumor as possible. The kidney, ureter and adrenal glands will be removed as well. This surgery is called nephrectomy.

During surgery, the lymph nodes close to the kidney may be removed and examined for cancer cells. Nearby organs and the other kidney will be examined, and biopsies may be done.

Two types of nephrectomy are used to treat Wilms' tumor:

Radical nephrectomy: The most common surgery to treat Wilms' tumor. The entire kidney, along with surrounding tissue, is removed.

Partial nephrectomy (or kidney-sparing surgery): When Wilms' tumors are in both kidneys, this surgery may be done to save as much healthy tissue as possible. The cancer and some of the surrounding healthy tissue are removed.

Sometimes, both kidneys may need to be removed completely. If this is the case, your child will need dialysis (a machine is used to filter the blood) several times a week. A kidney transplant may be an option later.


Most children who are treated for Wilms' tumor will receive chemotherapy. If a tumor is large or difficult to reach, or if there are tumors in both kidneys, chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumors and make them easier to remove.

Children's Cancer Hospital offers the most advanced chemotherapy agents.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow Children's Cancer Hospital doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells.

  • Children's Cancer Hospital provides the most advanced radiation treatments, including:
  • 3D-conformal radiation therapy: Several radiation beams are given in the exact shape of the tumor
    Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT): Treatment is tailored to the specific shape of the tumor

Our Clinical Trials

Because of our association with one of the world's premier cancer centers, Children's Cancer Hospital participates in many clinical trials (research studies) for Wilms' tumors. These include studies of the Children's Oncology Group, as well as clinical trials found at only a few institutions in the world. Sometimes these innovative treatments are your child's best option for treatment.

To find out more about clinical trials at Children's Cancer Hospital for Wilms' tumor, visit our Clinical Trials database or speak to your doctor.

Treatment at MD Anderson

Childhood Wilms' Tumor is treated in our Children's Cancer Hospital.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about Wilms' tumor in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.


MD Anderson has licensed social workers to help patients and their loved ones cope with cancer.


Talk to someone who shares your cancer diagnosis and be matched with a survivor.

Prevention and Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening. 

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