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Cancer Health Center

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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

Childhood kidney tumors are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the kidney.

There are two kidneys, one on each side of the backbone, above the waist. Tiny tubules in the kidneys filter and clean the blood. They take out waste products and make urine. The urine passes from each kidney through a long tube called a ureter into the bladder. The bladder holds the urine until it passes through the urethra and leaves the body.
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.

There are many types of childhood kidney tumors.

Wilms Tumor

In Wilms tumor, one or more tumors may be found in one or both kidneys. Wilms tumor may spread to the lungs, liver, bone, brain, or nearby lymph nodes. Most childhood kidney cancers are Wilms tumors, but in children 15 to 19 years old, renal cell cancer is more common.

Renal Cell Cancer (RCC)

Renal cell cancer is rare in children and adolescents younger than 15 years old. It is much more common in adolescents between 15 and 19 years old. Renal cell cancers may spread to the lungs, liver, or lymph nodes. Renal cell cancer may also be called renal cell carcinoma.

Rhabdoid Tumor of the Kidney

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 or brain.

Children with a certain gene change are checked regularly to see if a rhabdoid tumor has formed in the kidney or has spread to the brain:

  • Children younger than one year old have an ultrasound of the abdomen every two to three months and an ultrasound of the brain every month.
  • Children one to four years old have an ultrasound of the abdomen and an MRI of the brain and spine every three months.
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