Can Wilms Tumors Be Prevented?

The risk of many adult cancers can be reduced with certain lifestyle changes (such as staying at a healthy weight or quitting smoking), but at this time there are no known ways to prevent most cancers in children.

The only known risk factors for Wilms tumors (age, race, gender, and certain inherited conditions) can’t be changed. There are no known lifestyle-related or environmental causes of Wilms tumors, so at this time there is no way to prevent most of these cancers. Experts think these cancers come from cells that were around before birth but failed to develop into mature kidney cells. This doesn’t seem to be caused by anything a mother could avoid during pregnancy.

For children at very high risk

In some very rare cases, such as in children with Denys-Drash syndrome who are almost certain to develop Wilms tumors, doctors may recommend removing the kidneys at a very young age (with a donor kidney transplant later on) to prevent tumors from developing.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Chintagumpala M, Muscal JA. Presentation, diagnosis, and staging of Wilms tumor. UpToDate. Accessed at www.uptodate.com/contents/presentation-diagnosis-and-staging-of-wilms-tumor on August 22, 2018.

Fernandez CV, Geller JI, Ehrlich PF, et al. Chapter 29: Renal Tumors. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

National Cancer Institute. Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®). 2018. Accessed at www.cancer.gov/types/kidney/hp/wilms-treatment-pdq on August 22, 2018.

Last Medical Review: October 17, 2018 Last Revised: October 17, 2018

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.