How is Wilms tumor treated?
About 9 out of 10 children with Wilms tumor are cured. Much of the progress in treatment is because of the work of the National Wilms Tumor Study Group (now part of the Children's Oncology Group). This group sets up clinical trials of new treatments for most children with Wilms tumor in the United States.
After your child's Wilms tumor is found and staged, the doctor will suggest a treatment plan. Most children with this cancer are treated as part of a clinical trial to try to further improve on what doctors believe is the best treatment. The goal of these studies is to find ways to cure as many children as possible with the fewest side effects.
Because Wilms tumors are rare, few doctors outside of those in children's cancer centers have much experience treating it. A team approach that includes the child's pediatrician as well as experts at the cancer center is recommended. If you decide to get a second opinion, it should be done quickly because Wilms tumors are usually very large and tend to grow fast.
Treatment for Wilms tumor most often means surgery, chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation treatment. Most children will get more than one type of treatment. The first goal of treatment is to remove the main tumor, even if there are distant areas of spread (metastases). If any cancer remains after the first operation, radiation therapy or more surgery might be needed.
Sometimes the tumor may be too large to be removed. It may have spread into nearby blood vessels or other vital structures, or it may be in both kidneys. In these cases, doctors might use chemotherapy or radiation therapy (or both) to shrink the tumor before trying to remove it.
Last Medical Review: 08/01/2012
Last Revised: 08/01/2012