Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview
There are different types of treatment for patients with Wilms tumor and other childhood kidney tumors.
Different types of treatment are available for children with Wilms and other childhood kidney tumors. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.
Because cancer in children is rare, taking part in a clinical trial should be considered. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.
Children with Wilms tumor or other childhood kidney tumors should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating cancer in children.
Your child's treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other pediatric health care providers who are experts in treating children with Wilms tumor or other childhood kidney tumors and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include the following specialists:
Some cancer treatments cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.
Side effects from cancer treatment that begin during or after treatment and continue for months or years are called late effects. Late effects of cancer treatment may include the following:
Changes in mood, feelings, thinking, learning, or memory.
Second cancers (new types of cancer).
Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about the effects cancer treatment can have on your child. (See the PDQ summary about Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information).
Clinical trials are ongoing to find out if lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation can be used.
Four types of standard treatment are used:
Wilms tumor and other childhood kidney tumors are usually treated with nephrectomy (surgery to remove the whole kidney). Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
If cancer is found in both kidneys, surgery may include a partial nephrectomy (removal of the cancer in the kidney and a small amount of normal tissue around it). Partial nephrectomy is done to keep the kidney working.
Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to make the tumor smaller so less kidney tissue needs to be removed and there are fewer problems after surgery. This is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy. Sometimes, a second-look surgery is done to see if cancer remains after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.