What is Wilms' Tumour?
Wilms' tumour is also known as nephroblastoma, as it arises in
the kidney. It can occur in children of all ages, but most are
under five years of age. The tumour usually develops in only one
kidney. Rarely it occurs in both kidneys.
Signs & Symptoms
Many children with Wilms' tumour have no symptoms at all. A lump
may be noticed in the child's abdomen, or the child may complain of
abdominal pain, or may pass some blood in hisher urine.
An ultrasound examination and a CT scan of the abdomen will be
done to show the position of the tumour in the abdomen. A CT scan
of the chest will also be done to find out if the cancer has
spread. Other tests may be necessary, including blood tests to
check liver and kidney function. (Refer to section on tests and
Treatment may be with immediate surgery to remove the kidney and
the tumour. It is perfectly possible to live with only one kidney.
Alternatively, chemotherapy may be given first to shrink the tumour
so that the operation is easier. At the operation the surgeon will
examine the whole abdomen and will take specimens of lymph glands,
to determine if they are affected. Treatment is dependent on the
extent of the tumour. Chemotherapy may be given for up to one year
at regular intervals. Radiotherapy may also be needed.
Follow up care
Most children recover very quickly from the operation. Follow up
care involves regular clinical examinations, abdominal ultrasound's
and chest x-rays. After the first few years the focus of follow up
changes to monitoring growth and development and other possible
later side effects of treatment.