Cancers and Tumors

Kidney Tumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Kidney Tumors

Some common symptoms of Wilms tumor and other kidney tumors are:

  • A lump in the belly
  • Pain in the belly
  • Blood in the urine

Sometimes, these symptoms can be caused by problems besides cancer. It is important to see a doctor to find out the cause.

Kidney Tumor Diagnosis

The doctor starts with a thorough physical exam and asks about your child’s health. Then the doctor does a series of tests to look for signs of kidney tumors. Common tests include:

  • Blood tests that look at levels of white and red blood cells, and for substances that show if the kidneys are working well
  • Urine tests that look for blood and other substances in the urine

Your child’s doctor may also recommend an X-ray, ultrasound, CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look for tumors.

Stages of Wilms Tumors

Doctors use stages to describe a kidney tumor’s size and how far it has spread. Other types of kidney tumors have their own staging systems. Your child’s doctor can tell you about the system used for your child’s cancer.

Stages of Wilms tumors:

Stage 1
The tumor did not grow beyond the kidney. Doctors were able to take out the entire tumor with surgery.

Stage 2
The tumor went beyond the kidney, but doctors removed the entire tumor during surgery, including nearby blood vessels or fat.

Stage 3
Doctors could not remove the entire tumor. The cancer that is left is only in the belly area (abdomen) close to the kidneys. For example:

  • Cancer cells may have gotten into the abdomen before or during surgery.
  • Cancer cells may remain in the body at the edge of the tissue that doctors removed.
  • Cancer may be in the lymph nodes in the abdomen.
  • Cancer may have grown into nearby organs or areas so that the doctor could not take it all out.
  • Doctors may find tumor growth in the abdomen’s lining.

Stage 4
The cancer has spread to parts of the body that are far away from the kidneys.

Stage 5
Both kidneys have tumors.
Based on what Wilms tumor cells look like, doctors may put the tumor into one of two categories:

  1. If the nuclei, or “command centers,” of the cells look normal, doctors say the tumor has favorable histology. This means the tumor is easier to cure. About 95% of Wilms tumors fit into this category.
  2. If the nuclei of the cells look much larger than normal and do not have a normal shape, doctors say the tumor has unfavorable histology. Tumors in this category can be harder to treat.

Contact Us

To learn more about kidney tumor diagnosis and treatment at Seattle Children’s, call our Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at 206-987-2106.