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Renal (kidney) tumors occur when cancer cells form in kidney tissues. These tumors account for about 7% of all childhood cancers.
There are different types of kidney tumors in children. Wilms tumor (nephroblastoma) is one type of childhood kidney tumor.
The kidneys are a pair of organs on either side of the spine in the back of the belly. They filter and clean the blood. The kidneys also make urine.
Wilms tumor is also known as nephroblastoma. It is the most common kidney cancer in children. About 500 children in the United States are diagnosed with Wilms tumor each year. It is most often found in children under age 5.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common kidney tumor in teens between ages 15–19.
Other kidney tumors include:
Sometimes cancer may have spread before diagnosis. This depends on the type of tumor your child has. Wilms tumor, for example, rarely spreads to the brain.
Areas where cancer might spread can include:
Treatment for most kidney tumors depends on the tumor. It may include:
The treatment and prognosis for kidney tumors depends on the type of tumor and whether it has spread to other organs. Your child’s doctor is the best source of information on your child’s case.
Common signs and symptoms of kidney tumors include:
Certain genetic syndromes or other conditions may increase risk for kidney tumor. But most kidney tumors are not genetic.
Genetic conditions that increase the risk include:
If your child’s care team thinks your child’s tumor might be caused by a genetic condition, they may suggest genetic testing.
Tests to diagnose kidney tumors include:
Kidney tumors are classed based on the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread. Imaging tests, surgery, and pathology give information for the stage of disease. For all kidney tumor types:
Patients whose cancer has spread to other parts of the body have a poorer prognosis. This is because the cancer is more serious. It is also harder to treat.
Patients will get follow-up care to screen for recurrence after treatment. Your child’s care team will suggest the tests your child needs.
If your child has a syndrome or genetic difference that is passed through families, they may need genetic testing and extra care.
Patients who have had a kidney removed can lead normal, active lives.
It is important to talk about medical needs and lifestyle habits with your child’s care team.
Your child will need regular medical care with a check-up at least yearly. Tests might include:
Your child may need to see a kidney specialist called a nephrologist.
Children treated for kidney tumors are at risk for late effects related to therapy.
Living a healthy lifestyle, eating a healthy diet, and having regular screenings and checkups can help protect your child’s health.
Your child’s doctor is the best source of information about your child’s case.
Reviewed: November 2023