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

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Screening Children Predisposed to Wilms Tumor

Children with a significantly increased predisposition to develop Wilms tumor (e.g., most children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, WAGR syndrome, Denys-Drash syndrome, idiopathic hemihypertrophy, or sporadic aniridia) should be screened with ultrasound every 3 months at least until they reach age 8 years.[13,14,15,30]

Approximately 10% of patients with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome will develop a malignancy, with either Wilms tumor or hepatoblastoma being the most common, although adrenal tumors can also occur.[31] Children with hemihypertrophy are also at risk for developing liver and adrenal tumors. Screening with abdominal ultrasound and serum alpha-fetoprotein is suggested until age 4 years; after age 4, most hepatoblastomas will have occurred, and imaging may be limited to renal ultrasound, which is quicker and does not require the child to fast for the exam.[32]

Children with Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome, a unilateral limb overgrowth syndrome, had been considered to be at increased risk for developing Wilms tumor. The risk of Wilms tumor in children with Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome, when assessed using the National Wilms Tumor Study (NWTS) database, was no different than in the general population and routine ultrasound surveillance is not recommended.[33]

Genetics of Wilms Tumor

Wilms tumor (hereditary or sporadic) appears to result from changes in one or more of at least ten genes. Several, but not all, will be discussed here.

Wilms tumor 1gene (WT1)

The WT1 gene is located on the short arm of chromosome 11 (11p13). The normal function of WT1 is required for normal genitourinary development and is important for differentiation of the renal blastema. Germline mutations in WT1 have been found in about 2% of phenotypically normal children with Wilms tumor.[34] Germline WT1 mutations in children with Wilms tumor does not confer a poor prognosis per se. The offspring of those with germline mutation in WT1 may also be at increased risk of developing Wilms tumor. Because deletion of WT1 was the first mutation found to be associated with Wilms tumor, WT1 was assumed to be a conventional tumor suppressor gene. However, non-inactivating mutations can result in altered WT1 protein function that also results in Wilms tumor, such as in the Denys-Drash syndrome.

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