Kidney Tumor Program

Children with kidney tumors are treated through the Kidney Tumor Program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. We are one of the few pediatric cancer centers that include doctors and nurses with expertise in childhood kidney cancers who will be able to answer your questions — from diagnosis through treatment and survivorship. 

Our approach to kidney tumors

Our patients have access to the broadest set of pediatric and oncologic expertise available. The breadth of our expertise allows us to assemble a team of specialists to meet the specific needs of each patient. At the core of the treatment team is a medical oncologist who specializes in treating kidney tumors. Many of our physicians are also active researchers, so our patients have access to the very best and up-to-date treatments available. Your child’s treatment team will include:

  • pediatric oncologists with expertise in the treatment of kidney tumors
  • pediatric surgeons
  • pediatric radiologists
  • pathologists
  • radiotherapists
  • experienced nursing staff

Other key members of the treatment team include experts who help the child prepare for life during and after treatment including psychiatrists and psychologists, child life specialists, social workers, nutritionists, and school specialists.

Our areas of kidney tumor research

Members of our Kidney Tumor Program also oversee laboratory and clinical research designed to improve understanding and treatment of childhood kidney tumors. Because Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is the regional Phase I center for the Children's Oncology Group, a collaborative research organization dedicated to improving the treatment of childhood cancers, our center offers treatments unavailable at other regional institutions. We also collaborate with other pediatric centers across the country to offer unique treatment options.

Identifying the best treatment for Wilms tumor

Major advancements have occurred in treatment of Wilms tumor over the last two decades, primarily because of studies by the National Wilms Tumor Study Group, of which Dana-Farber/Boston Children's was a member. These studies have rigorously compared treatment regimens and helped define the right treatment for each stage and type of Wilms tumor. In one large study, it was shown for low stage Wilms tumor that briefer courses of therapy were safer and as effective as longer courses.

Risk-stratifying treatment of children with bilateral tumors

The traditional treatment for pediatric kidney tumors is a two-step process: Surgeons remove as much of the tumor as possible, then oncologists use chemotherapy to kill remaining cancerous cells. If the tumor is bilateral (appearing in both kidneys), chemotherapy is sometimes also used before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor. Our researchers are investigating the use of continuous pathological review throughout treatment to evaluate the best therapeutic approach for bilateral pediatric kidney tumors.

Searching for markers

Researchers are conducting studies to better understand how to diagnose and treat renal (kidney) tumors. For example, researchers at our center are investigating whether kidney tumors emit markers in a child’s urine. If discovered, these markers could be used to screen for early recurrence of relapsed cancers. They may also help clinicians screen types of tumors up front, so treatments are personalized to the exact makeup of a child’s tumor.

Our researchers are also global leaders in the basic and translational study of rhabdoid tumors, including malignant rhabdoid tumors and atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. Their goal: to understand the biological basis of rhabdoid tumors, including the role(s) of mutations in the gene, SMARCB1, and to develop more effective treatment methods for children with these tumors.

Stem cell transplant

Stem cell transplant can be used in some cases of resistant Wilms Tumor. Dana-Farber/Boston Children's provides this option for appropriate patients.