About 6% of all childhood cancers originate in the kidney and nearly all of these are Wilms Tumours which cause a tumour on one or both kidneys. They are most common in children under 5 years of age.
Symptoms of Wilms Tumour may include a lump in the abdomen, pain and sometimes blood in the urine. At the time of diagnosis, 10-15% of children will already have widespread disease, but cure is still possible.
Diagnosis is confirmed via a biopsy of the tumour tissue, but x-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans are also used to determine the location and extent of disease.
Wilms Tumours occasionally occur in more than one family member and may be associated with other abnormalities, such as absence of the iris in the eye (Aniridia) and enlargement of one side of the body (Hemihypertrphy).
- Stage I – tumour only in the kidney and is completely removed by surgery.
- Stage II – tumour/disease extends beyond the kidney but is still able to be removed
- Stage III – the cancer has spread to abdominal lymph nodes or can’t be removed wholly because it is attached to tissues within the abdomen.
- Stage IV – the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs or liver.
- Stage V – both kidneys are affected.
Treatment of Wilms Tumour involves surgery to remove it, followed by chemotherapy. In advanced cases of the disease radiotherapy may also be needed.
The cure rate varies according to the stage of disease. For Stage I and II, the cure rate is around 90%, for Stage III, 85-90%, Stage IV 70-80% and for Stage V around 70%.