Wilm's Tumor

By Philip E. Gleason, MD


Wilm's Tumors develop in the kidney. This section topic will provide introductory information regarding Wilm's Tumors.


Wilm's tumors are the most common Pediatric Urologic tumor. They are thought to develop from a combination of gene damage.


They most commonly present as an abdominal mass or with hematuria, blood in the urine. They occur most commonly from age 1-5 but can occur throughout childhood.


They are usually diagnosed with x-rays of the kidney such as a Renal Ultrasound or Renal CT. They are then staged with Chest and Abdominal-Pelvic CAT scans.


The treatment of Wilm's tumors depends on whether one kidney or both are affected. The tumor is also staged to see if there is any spread of the tumor away from the kidney to other parts of the body. If only one kidney is involved, it is usually removed to confirm the diagnosis and provide surgical treatment. If both kidneys are involved, a biopsy or sample of the tumor is taken, and chemotherapy is planned to shrink the tumors down to allow surgical removal at a second operation. Based upon the pathology of the tumor and stage, or extent of the tumor, chemotherapy and possibly radiation therapy are also added to treat the tumor. This allows combinations of therapy to maximize treatment but also attempts to minimize side effects of the therapies.


As the treatment of Wilm's tumors improves, more tumors are cured and short term side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy are minimized. As such, the long term effects of therapy are becoming more important. Therefore, it is important to follow these patients long term.


© 2005-2010, Dr. Philip E. Gleason, MD