During and after treatment for Wilms tumors, the main concerns for most families are the short- and long-term effects of the tumor and its treatment, and concerns about the tumor still being there or coming back.
It’s certainly normal to want to put the tumor and its treatment behind you, and get back to a life that doesn’t revolve around cancer. But it’s important to realize that follow-up care is a central part of treatment that offers your child the best chance for long-term recovery.
Follow-up exams and tests
Your child’s health care team will set up a follow-up schedule, which will include physical exams and imaging tests (such as chest x-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans) to look for the growth or return of the tumor, or any problems related to treatment.
Since most children have had a kidney removed, blood and urine tests will be done to check how well the remaining kidney is working. If your child received the drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) during chemotherapy, the doctor may also order tests to check the function of your child’s heart.
The recommended schedule for follow-up exams and tests depends on the initial stage and histology (favorable or unfavorable) of the cancer, the type of treatment, and any problems that the child may have had during treatment. Doctor visits and tests will be more frequent at first (about every 6 to 12 weeks for the first couple of years), but the time between visits may be extended as time goes on.
During this time, it’s important to report any new symptoms to your child’s doctor right away, so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed. Your child’s doctor can give you an idea of what to watch for.
If the tumor does come back, or if it doesn’t respond to treatment, your child’s doctors will discuss the treatment options with you.
Children with bilateral Wilms tumors or Denys-Drash syndrome will also need regular tests to look for possible early signs of kidney failure (including urine tests, blood pressure checks, and blood tests of kidney function).
Last Revised: 02/16/2016