Wilms' tumor is a type of kidney cancer that usually affects children of the age 3 of 4. The exact cause of Wilms' tumor is still unknown but the experts believe that it is innate.
The symptoms of Wilms' tumor progress slowly and the child may appear healthy. If the symptoms occur, they may include swelling in the abdomen, pain in the stomach, nausea, constipation, loss of appetite, fever, high blood pressure and blood in the urine. If Wilms' tumor is detected and treated in time, the chances of full recovery are great.
In order to diagnose Wilms' tumor the doctor may do the physical exam to perform urine and blood tests and MRI, CT scan or X-ray imaging. After the thorough diagnostic measures your doctor will establish the stage of cancer. There are 5 stages of Wilms' tumor which are determined according to the development of cancer and the fact whether it has affected other organs.
The most common treatments for Wilms' tumor are surgery and chemotherapy, and radiation. The term which refers to the removal of the kidney or kidney tissue is nephrectomy. There are several types of surgical procedures which may involve simple, partial and radical nephrectomy. In simple kidney nephrectomy entire kidney is removed, partial nephrectomy includes the kidney and the surrounding tissue and radical nephrectomy includes the kidney, surrounding tissue, urethra and adrenal gland. In the most severe cases both kidneys will have to be removed and the child will have to go on dialysis until the transplantation.
There are surgical complications which can appear during or after the surgery. These complications may include hemorrhage, infections, hernia, intestinal injury, small bowel obstruction and vascular problems. Other complications which may appear later include renal failure, heart diseases, lung problems, liver damage, obstructed gonadal function and ovarian function, problems with musculoskeletal function which can be a consequence of radiation and development of second cancer such as breast, thyroid, brain or bone cancer. If Wilms' tumor affected both kidneys, it may reflect on their function. Fortunately, Wilms' tumor is a rare condition and so are the complications.Having a small child with cancer may be devastating for the parents and family so it is important to provide necessary support and care. You should be with your child during his/her stay in the hospital, try to explain what is happening, observe your child's behavior including sleep, appetite, temperature and energy levels, provide him/her healthy food and plenty of fluids.