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Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Cellular Classification

Wilms Tumor

Although most patients with a histologic diagnosis of Wilms tumor fare well with current treatment, approximately 10% of patients have histopathologic features that are associated with a poorer prognosis, and in some types, with a high incidence of relapse and death. Wilms tumor can be separated into three prognostic groups on the basis of histopathology—favorable histology, anaplastic histology, and nephrogenic rests.

Favorable histology

Histologically, Wilms tumor mimics development of a normal kidney consisting of three cell types: blastemal, epithelial (tubules), and stromal. Not all tumors are triphasic, and monophasic patterns may present diagnostic difficulties. While associations between histologic features and prognosis or responsiveness to therapy have been suggested, with the exception of anaplasia, none of these features have reached statistical significance and therefore do not direct the initial therapy.[1]

Anaplastic histology

Anaplastic histology accounts for about 10% of Wilms tumors. Anaplastic histology is the single most important histologic predictor of response and survival in patients with Wilms tumor. Tumors occurring in older patients (aged 10–16 years) have a higher incidence of anaplastic histology.[2] There are two histologic criteria for anaplasia, both of which must be present for the diagnosis. They are the presence of multipolar polyploid mitotic figures with marked nuclear enlargement and hyperchromasia. Changes on 17p consistent with mutations in the p53 gene have been associated with foci of anaplastic histology.[3] All of these characteristics lend support to the hypothesis that anaplasia evolves as a late event from a subpopulation of Wilms tumor cells that have acquired additional genetic lesions.[4] Anaplasia correlates best with responsiveness to therapy rather than to aggressiveness. It is most consistently associated with poor prognosis when it is diffusely distributed and when identified at advanced stages. These tumors are more resistant to the chemotherapy traditionally used in children with favorable-histology Wilms tumor.[5] This is the reason why focal anaplasia and diffuse anaplasia are differentiated, both pathologically and therapeutically. Focal anaplasia is defined as the presence of one or a few sharply localized regions of anaplasia within a primary tumor. Focal anaplasia does not confer as poor a prognosis as does diffuse anaplasia.[5,6,7]

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