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Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors

Wilms tumor and other childhood kidney tumors are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the kidney.

Wilms tumor

Wilms tumor and other kidney tumors are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the kidney. In Wilms tumor, one or more tumors may be found in one or both kidneys. There are two kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. Tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood, taking out waste products and making urine. The urine passes from each kidney through a long tube called a ureter into the bladder. The bladder holds the urine until it is passed from the body.
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Anatomy of the female urinary system showing the kidneys, adrenal glands, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine is made in the renal tubules and collects in the renal pelvis of each kidney. The urine flows from the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder. The urine is stored in the bladder until it leaves the body through the urethra.

Wilms tumor may spread to the lungs, liver, or nearby lymph nodes.

Nephroblastomatosis is a condition in which abnormal tissue grows on the outer part of one or both kidneys. Children with this condition are at risk for developing a type of Wilms tumor that grows quickly. Frequent follow-up testing is important for at least 7 years after the child is treated.

Other kidney tumors

Other childhood kidney tumors, which are diagnosed and treated in different ways, include:

  • Clear cell sarcoma of the kidney is a type of kidney tumor that may spread to the lung, bone, brain, and soft tissue.
  • Rhabdoid tumor of the kidney is a type of kidney cancer that occurs mostly in infants and young children. It is often advanced at the time of diagnosis. Rhabdoid tumor of the kidney grows and spreads quickly, often to the lungs and brain.
  • Neuroepithelial tumors of the kidney are rare and usually occur in young adults. They grow and spread quickly.
  • Desmoplastic small round cell tumor of the kidney is a rare soft tissue sarcoma. See the PDQ summary about Childhood Soft Tissue Sarcoma Treatment for more information.
  • Cystic partially differentiated nephroblastoma is a very rare type of Wilms tumor made up of cysts.
  • Renal cell carcinoma is rare in children or in adolescents younger than 15 years of age. However, it is much more common in adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age. Renal cell carcinomas can spread to the lungs, bones, liver, and lymph nodes.
  • Congenital mesoblastic nephroma is a tumor of the kidney that is usually diagnosed within the first year of life and can usually be cured. One type of congenital mesoblastic nephroma may appear on an ultrasound exam before birth or may occur within the first 3 months after the child is born. Congenital mesoblastic nephroma occurs more often in males than females.
  • Primary renal synovial sarcoma is a rare tumor of the kidney and is most common in young adults.
  • Anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney is a rare tumor that is most commonly found in children or adolescents younger than 15 years of age. Anaplastic sarcoma of the kidney often spreads to the lungs, liver, or bones. There is no standard treatment for anaplastic sarcoma.
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