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Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)

General Information About Childhood Kidney Tumors

Cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975.[1] Children and adolescents with cancer need to be referred to medical centers that have multidisciplinary teams of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, radiation oncologists, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life. (Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for more information.)

Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics.[2] At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most of the types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials under the auspices of cooperative groups such as the Children's Oncology Group (COG), the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), and the Société Internationale d’Oncologie Pédiatrique (SIOP). Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2010, childhood cancer mortality decreased by more than 50%.[3] For children younger than 15 years with Wilms tumor, the 5-year survival rate has increased over the same time from 74% to 88%.[3] Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close monitoring because cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.)

Childhood kidney cancers account for about 7% of all childhood cancers. Most childhood kidney cancers are Wilms tumor, but in the 15- to 19-year age group, most tumors are renal cell carcinoma. Wilms tumor can affect one kidney (unilateral) or both kidneys (bilateral). Other types of childhood kidney tumors include rhabdoid tumors, clear cell sarcoma, congenital mesoblastic nephroma, neuroepithelial tumors, desmoplastic small round cell tumor, cystic partially differentiated nephroblastoma, multilocular cystic nephroma, primary renal synovial sarcoma, and anaplastic sarcoma. Nephroblastomatosis of the kidney is a type of nonmalignant neoplasia.[4,5]


  1. Smith MA, Seibel NL, Altekruse SF, et al.: Outcomes for children and adolescents with cancer: challenges for the twenty-first century. J Clin Oncol 28 (15): 2625-34, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Guidelines for the pediatric cancer center and role of such centers in diagnosis and treatment. American Academy of Pediatrics Section Statement Section on Hematology/Oncology. Pediatrics 99 (1): 139-41, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Smith MA, Altekruse SF, Adamson PC, et al.: Declining childhood and adolescent cancer mortality. Cancer 120 (16): 2497-506, 2014. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Ahmed HU, Arya M, Levitt G, et al.: Part I: Primary malignant non-Wilms' renal tumours in children. Lancet Oncol 8 (8): 730-7, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Ahmed HU, Arya M, Levitt G, et al.: Part II: Treatment of primary malignant non-Wilms' renal tumours in children. Lancet Oncol 8 (9): 842-8, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: August 15, 2014