Wilms' tumor is the most common tumor (lump) of the kidney in children. Usually it is found by age five. Some times it is associated with a number of other abnormalities that are found at birth.
These tumors of the kidney are found as a mass (enlargement) in the abdomen (belly). This is sometimes found by parents by accident or during a routine physical exam. Sometimes it is found because of a fever, elevated blood pressure, or because of blood in the urine.
This tumor is diagnosed with routine studies including ultrasound (sound waves are bounced off the kidneys to produce a picture), routine X-rays, intravenous pyelograms (a dye is given that is passed by the kidneys and allows a specialized X-ray to be taken), and CT scans. This allow your caregiver to look for other abnormalities. The earlier the stage of the tumor the more benign (non-cancerous) it appears under the microscope, the better the outcome will be. This means there is a better chance of survival.
Surgery is the main form of treatment. Surgery is done right after the tumor is first diagnosed. Sometimes it follows a course of medications (chemotherapy) to fight the tumor. Radiation may also be used following surgery. Because the treatment varies with the type of problems present and the extent of the disease, your caregiver will discuss all of your options with you. Together you can make a decision about the best treatment of this disease. Sometimes some of the decisions must be made after a course of treatment. An entire kidney and the surrounding tissue may be removed. Sometimes a portion of the kidney on the other side may need to be removed. This is something your caregiver will discuss with you.