Conditions + Treatments

Wilms' Tumor in Children

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Contact the Kidney Tumor Program

If your child has been diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, you are sure to have many questions and concerns. Learning the basics about the condition will help you to prepare for the journey ahead.

Wilm’s tumor is a cancerous tumor in the cells of the kidney. It most often starts in the kidneys but, in rare cases, it can occur in other parts of the body. If Wilms’ tumor spreads, it most often moves into the lungs. Fortunately, with the right treatment, Wilms’ tumor is often highly treatable.

  • It’s the most common type of renal (kidney) cancer and accounts for about 6 percent of all childhood cancers.
  • About 500 children in the United States are diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor each year.
  • Wilm’s tumor can occur at any age between infancy and age 15, but usually is detected by the time a child is 3 years old. Adults rarely have Wilms’ tumor.
  • The tumor can be very large, and it may spread to other body tissues, most often the lungs.
  • With prompt and aggressive treatment, Wilms’ tumor is successfully treated in the majority of affected children with a combination of surgery, and/or chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. 


How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s approaches Wilms’ tumor

Children with Wilms' Tumor are treated through the Kidney Tumor Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric oncology program through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital that provides—in one specialized program—all the services of both a leading cancer center and a pediatric hospital.

Major advancements have occurred in the treatment of Wilm’s tumor over the last two decades, primarily because of studies by the National Wilms' Tumor Study Group, of which Boston Children's Hospital was a member. These studies have rigorously compared treatment regimens to determine the most effective and safest treatments. For example, one study showed that briefer courses of therapy are as effective as longer courses, and less harmful. Children’s Hospital is now an active member of the Boston Children’s Oncology Group (COG).

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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