A great deal of progress has been made in treating Wilms tumor over the last 25 years. Nine out of ten children are successfully treated with surgery, chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy. Many improvements in treatments have resulted from the work of the National Wilms Tumor Study Group. Today, most children with Wilms tumor are enrolled and treated in a clinical trial, so that the best treatments available can be improved even further.
Wilms tumors are relatively rare, therefore it is important to seek care at an experienced children’s cancer center. A team approach that includes the child’s pediatrician as well as specialists at the children’s cancer center where the treatment will be provided is recommended. Once a Wilms tumor is discovered, children should begin treatment quickly. Wilms tumors are often quite large by the time they are discovered, and these tumors tend to grow rapidly.
The first goal is to remove the tumor from the involved kidney or major site, even if the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Sometimes, the tumor can be too large to remove immediately and may have spread into nearby blood vessels, other vital structures, or may be found in both kidneys. For these patients, doctors sometimes use chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before removing it later in the course of therapy.